March 22, 2019

Astronomy Video of the Week: Catch a Close Pass of Asteroid 2015 HD1 Tonight!

Credit: The Virtual Telescope Project

Caution: low-flying space rocks!

A funny thing happened on our way back to Florida late last week. On April 18th, as we disconnected from the hotel wifi and the cyber world one last time, we admonished the universe not to send any ‘alien invasions or killer space rocks’ our way until we could get our base camp established in Florida on Monday. [Read more...]

2009 UN3:A (Semi-) Bright Asteroid flyby.

This week, a brief cosmic interloper graces our skies. Tonight, 2009 UN3 will glide silently past Earth, at a distance of 0.03667 Astronomical Units, or about 3,400,000 miles. That equates to roughly 13 times the Earth-Moon distance. Not especially close, as Near Earth Asteroids go; 2009 UN3 isn’t considered a hazard on this pass, but has been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, (PHA) or one that warrants watching. What is interesting about this particular asteroid is the fact that it is nearly a kilometer in size, and thus should appear moderately bright. At maximum approach, 2009 UN3 will be approximately +12 in apparent magnitude, bright enough for moderate (8” aperture or larger) scopes. Closest approach occurs at 4:48 Universal Time (UT) on the 9th, at which time the asteroid will be moving in a south to north direction through the constellation  Corvus into Virgo around Right Ascension 12h 23’ 26.0” and southern declination -08° 55’ 30”. Keep in mind, the coordinates mentioned are topocentric; with Near Earth Objects (NEOs), parallax as viewed from along the Earth’s surface comes into play.

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