DART slams into Dimorphos: online, live observation of the impact – 26 Sept. 2022.

Next 26 Sept. 2022, after a 10-month long journey, the Nasa’s DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) spacecraft will reach the climax of its mission. It will impact on Dimorphos, the satellite of asteroid (65803) Didymos, to test its deflection by kinetic impactor. We will show you the target asteroid live, to hopefully spot any brightness increase after the collision!

DART slams into Dimorphos: poster of the event. Credits: Nasa (DART), G. Masi (Didymos).

DART slams into Dimorphos: poster of the event. Credits: Nasa (DART), G. Masi (Didymos).

 

UPDATES: We did it! DART slammed into Didymos/Dimorphos system and we recorded an important increase in brightness and a dusty cloud

DART impact on Dimorphos: a panel summarising our observations, with clear evolution of the target asteroid.

DART impact on Dimorphos: a panel summarising our observations, with clear evolution of the target asteroid.

 

The Nasa’s DART probe, impacting on its target asteroid Dimorphos, will be the first test ever of a planetary defence mission. The idea is to use the same technique in the future, just in case an asteroid will be found on a route of collision with the Earth. Testing this before the real need is vital.

As always, the Virtual Telescope Project wanted to bring to you such a unique opportunity: spying in real-time the target asteroid around the impact time, to hopefully record and see together any brightness increase due to collision. We spotted DART soon after it was launched in Nov. 2021, now we wanted to show you its final fate. Unfortunately, asteroid (65803) Didymos is currently too South in the sky to be seen from Italy, where are telescopes are installed.

So, we managed to contact a couple of Observatories in South Africa, from where the asteroid will be visible at its best and they promptly joined our request. We are pleased to acknowledge their foundamental contribution:

  • We will connect with the Klein Karoo Observatory and will observe together with his owner and operator, Berto Monard. Berto is one of the most accomplished amateur astronomers in the world and a long time friend of the host. In 2003 he became the first amateur on the planet to detect the optical counterpart of a gamma-ray burst. He is a very active observer of cataclysmic variable stars, with tens of thousands of observations, and also discovered many supernovae. He currently observes from his Klein Karoo Observatory in Calitzdorp, South Africa;
  • We will remotely access the Mahikeng Astronomical Observatory, a facility of the North West University in the town of Mahikeng, South Africa. The main and largest telescope is the 50cm (20 inches) diameter astrograph that is installed on a fully automated mount. Two imaging cameras are available for this telescope, both equipped with Johnson UBVRI filters for standard photometry. With the larger camera, the 20 inches telescope has combined field of view of 30 x 30 arcmins. The second telescope is  40 cm (16 inch) telescope.

The live event will be conducted by Gianluca Masi, astrophysicist and director of the Virtual Telescope Project.

This really is a record setting live feed in the astronomical outreach field!

The online, free session is scheduled for 26 Sept. 2022, starting at 22:30 UT.

To join the DART slams into Dimorphos live event you just need to enter, at the date and time above, our webTV page here!

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