2012 January 27
BAA observations refine asteroids orbit
BAA member Nick James was able to respond to an urgent request for observations of the newly discovered near earth asteroid 2012 BX34.
He was able to image the asteroid last night (January 26th) from Chelmsford, one day before its closest approach at around 15:30UT today.
Following an alert from ARPS director Richard Miles I observed this very small Near Earth Asteroid last night from Chelmsford. The asteroid had only been discovered the night before and is due to come within 0.2 lunar distance of the centre of the Earth at around 15:30 UTC today. It is probably only 4-5m across.
Observations using the Goldstone Solar System Radar were scheduled for this morning and so an urgent request went out for astrometry of this object to help refine the orbit. The attached image shows one of my observations. The asteroid was moving so fast (around 30 arcsec/min) that I had to take short exposures but it was relatively faint (around mag 17) so they needed to be stacked. This stack consists of 36 frames offset at the expected rate of the object. It is visible as a dot and the background stars are the trails. The gap was caused by a short break to take a couple of dark frames.
You can also read more about this asteroid on the BBC News website.