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Sunday, November 18, 2012

An amateur astronomer rediscovers an asteroid 'lost'


Between September and October 2008 was observed 2008SE85 potentially hazardous asteroid, but has since lost his track. Until now, when a German amateur observer has re-locate it from an ESA station.

2008SE85 asteroid's orbit. Credit: ESA / E. Schwab.
Although not a threat to Earth in the short term, the German amateur astronomer Erwin Schwab has ever seen an asteroid labeled 'potentially dangerous'.


2008SE85 is discovered in September 2008 during the program and Catalina Sky Survey detected from several observatories until October of that year. Since then the predictions of its position had become so vague that the asteroid was considered lost.

Erwin has rediscovered this object, half a kilometer in diameter, during his' hunting 'of asteroids with the telescope that the European Space Agency (ESA) is installed at the Observatorio del Teide (Tenerife, Canary Islands), in the so-called' optical station earth '.

Detection was performed within the observing time allocated to the program Space Knowledge of the agency.

Amateur astronomer planned his sequence of observations to find the asteroid within the area of ​​uncertainty surrounding predictions of its position. It took only a few hours to find him, about two degrees away from its predicted position (two degrees corresponds to four times the apparent size of the Moon).

Happy birthday

"I found the object during the night of Saturday, September 15, as she checked the images on my computer," says Erwin. "Then I saw him again to 01h30 on Sunday morning, it was my birthday! It is one of the nicest birthday gifts I've ever had. "

The new observations of the asteroid orbit will determine much more accurate, and you confirm that it will pose no threat to Earth, at least in the short term.

The asteroid takes about two years to circle the Sun The following approach to Earth will be the March 29, 2013, at a distance 'safe' about 15 million kilometers, ie one tenth of the distance to Sun Closer to happen in 2098, when the asteroid is expected to fly about 6 million miles of us.

The potentially hazardous asteroids approach the Earth at distances of less than seven million miles. There cataloged about 1,300 of this type. When you discover a new one should conduct follow-up observations in the hours and days to make sure you do not miss.

The rediscovery of the asteroid 2008SE85 has officially announced in a circular electronic Corps Center Minor (Minor Planet Centre) of USA, which receives the data provided by astronomers worldwide.

"It's not the first time that our collaboration with amateur astronomers is successful," says Detlef Koschny, head of Asteroid near Earth from ESA's SSA program, which recalled that members of the asteroid search program Observatory Teide-initiated by Matthias Busch from Heppenheim in Germany, and discovered two NEO (Near Earth Objects) while working with our observation program ".

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