NEWS

Near-Earth asteroid passing by the distant galaxy

On January 30th, 2017 a new asteroid P10zaUs was discovered by Pan-STARRS observatory in Hawaii. On January 31st it was named 2017 BS32 by the Minor Planet Center. It became clear right from the start that this object will approach Earth by the minimum distance of 160 thousand km (2.5 times closer than the Moon) in the evening of February 2nd. At 3 PM Moscow time asteroid BS32 will cross the lunar orbit, becoming the closest natural celestial body until 8 AM on February 3rd.


While approaching to Earth, the asteroid is quickly gaining the speed and becoming brighter with every hour. If was just a 20th magnitude object at the time of discovery, but it will brighten to 13.5m by the evening of Groundhog Day, becoming the brightest near-Earth asteroid since the start of the year. During the closest approach to Earth at 20:25 UT the apparent speed of asteroid will grow up to 900" per minute. That is the speed of geostationary satellites relative to stars! Moving towards south-west through the constellation of Leo, at 09:30 UT the asteroid has passed by a beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 2903 which is located about 30 million light years from us. In the course of "Discovery within a Week" project by Noosfera foundation we have obtained a series of images during this flyby using the 43-cm T21 instrument of iTelescope network installed in Mayhill (New Mexico, USA). Animation of nine images showing the rapid motion of asteroid is given in 2017BS32-NGC2903-T21-20170202-anim.gif. The image 2017BS32-NGC2903-T21-20170202-0932UT.jpg shows a single exposure taken at 09:32 UT. The full field of view (49'x33') was cropped to 23x17 arc minutes. During the shooting the asteroid was at 470 thousand km from us, that is, it took just 1.6 second for the light from it to reach us. Asteroid had magnitude about 14.8 and angular velocity 114" per minute. For comparison, image 2017BS32-20170201-T21-anim.gif is showing what the same asteroid looked like a night before, at 09:53 UT on the 1st of February. The images were obtained with the same telescope and with same exposures as on the 2nd. It is hard to believe they are showing the same object! On the 1st of February the asteroid was at 1.4 mln km, had 18th stellar magnitude and was moving at 15" per minute.


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