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article imagePassing asteroid caught on camera

By Lee Labuschagne     Sep 9, 2010 in Science
Remanzacco - Two Italian amateur astronomers, Ernesto Guido and Giovanni Sostero, have managed to photograph one of the two asteroids that passed close to Earth on Sept. 8.
Guido and Sostero, of the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy, are particularly active in the study of the small bodies of the Solar System. They posted their pictures on their blog and explain they have been able to follow Asteroid 2010 RF12 on September 8 at at 06:45am UT (00:45am local time) through the GRAS network, using remotely-controlled telescope scope located in Mayhill (New Mexico).
They produced a short animation "composed of four unfiltered exposures, 30-seconds each obtained by means of a 0.25-m, f/3.4 reflector + CCD camera". They also took the 120-second exposure shown above.
Their pictures illustrate the value of the contributions of amateur astronomers to scientific endeavour when it comes to international observing efforts such as those relating to Near Earth Objects (NEOs).
NASA had advised that the two asteroids were discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson Arizona on the morning of September 5 during their routine monitoring of the skies.
The Minor Planet Center in Cambridge Massachusetts first received the observations Sunday morning, determined preliminary orbits and concluded that both objects would pass within the distance of the Moon about three days after their discovery.
Near Earth Asteroid 2010 RX30 is estimated to be 10 to 20 meters in size and passed within 0.6 lunar distances of Earth (about 248,000 km), while the second object, Asteroid 2010 RF12, estimated to be 6 to 14 meters in size, passed within 0.2 lunar distances (79,000 km) a few hours later.
Asteroids of this size passing close to Earth are not uncommon, According to NASA, a 10-meter-sized near-Earth asteroid from the undiscovered population of about 50 million would be expected to pass almost daily within a lunar distance, and one might strike Earth's atmosphere about every ten years on average.
Also see Digital Journal journalist Amanda Tennis' earlier report here.
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