52768 1998 OR2 Animation

Asteroids are rocky bodies left over from the formation of the Solar System. The largest are small planets, but most range in size from a few kilometers to a few meters. Photographically, none appear as anything but point sources, like stars. But they are interesting imaging targets, sometimes moving very quickly against the background stars. When the telescope is tracking on the stars, as it usually does, the asteroid appears as a streak. When the telescope is set to track on the asteroid, the stars streak. Some asteroids rise to public attention, usually with sensationalistic news stories about how close they will approach the Earth. None of these will hit the Earth anytime soon, although there is a category of asteroids with orbits that cross Earth's, and these have the potential of colliding with us in hundreds or thousands of years. Most are not large enough, however, to do much damage, assuming they even reach the ground intact.

This sequence follows near-Earth asteroid 52768 1998 OR2 for 40 minutes beginning at UT 30 April 2020 03:34, when it passed about 16 lunar distances from Earth- considered "close". The video is stitched from a sequence of 30-second exposures made with a QSI660 on a 250mm RC telescope.


Click on images to enlarge.

Asteroid 2006 VV2, 2007-04-01
Minor planet Sedna, 2004-03-19
Asteroid 2002 NY40, 2002-08-17
Asteroid 2002 NY40, 2002-08-18
Asteroid 2002 NY40, 2002-08-18
Asteroid 2002 NY40, 2002-08-18