Near-Earth Asteroid 2023 BU extremely close encounter: image, video and podcast – 26 Jan. 2023

Here it is the near-Earth asteroid 2023 BU while it was around its minimum distance from our planet, captured during our very successful live observing session.

Near-Earth Asteroid 2023 BU: 26 Jan. 2023.

Near-Earth Asteroid 2023 BU: 26 Jan. 2023.

The image above comes from a single, 60-second exposure, remotely taken with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″ + Paramount ME + SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope. The telescope tracked the very fast apparent motion of the asteroid, this is why stars look like long trails while the asteroid is a bright, sharp dot of light.

At the imaging time, asteroid 2023 BU was at about 37.000 km from us, significantly closer than geostationary satellites and was still approaching our planet. The minimum distance (10.000 km, less than 3% of the average lunar distance, 1/4 of the distance of geostationary satellites) was reached on 27 Jan. at 00:29 UTC (source: Nasa/JPL). It flew about 3.600 km above the Earth’s surface: this made it the 4th closest asteroid ever (excluding those – five – discovered just before their impact).

Imaging it was not easy because the sky was cloudy for most of the time, so we had to delay our live feed many times. But we were lucky: at some point the sky improved and, while it was far from being decent, we could spot and track this rock, sharing the experience in real-time with a very huge international audience.

We also managed to create a sequence, see below: at the time of the time-lapse, 2023 BU was moving with a rate of about 30 deg/hour, very fast (the time-lapse is 100X faster than that).

Near-Earth Asteroid 2023 BU: animation.

Near-Earth Asteroid 2023 BU: animation.

We could track it before clouds came back: at that point, 2023 BU was at about 28.500km from the Earth’s center, about 22.000 km above Earth’s surface.

Below you can find the podcast from our live feed.

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