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Asteroid 1998 QE2

Posted: 30 May 2013

Another pack rat near the observatory was captured and released on Thursday, 30 May 2013. Count is now 19 live pack rats and 2 dead ones. Although two Kissing Bugs were seen in the observatory the previous night, I'm hopeful that the removal of the pack rats and their nests near the observatory will be helping to mitigate the Kissing Bugs this season.

The observatory was opened Thursday, 30 May, at 1903 MST, 93°F. The sky was clear. At 1910 MST, viewed Venus, then Mercury, 83X. At 1919 MST, I synced the observatory to WWV in preparation for Friday morning's ISS-Moon transit. At 1923 MST, viewed Mercury using 222X. Seeing was not very good, but the almost half-phase was clearly visible. Sunset was at 1928 MST. The neighbor to the north turned on their bright, horizontally aimed, unshielded, floodlights:


Viewed Venus, 222X, at 1937 MST. Then slewed to Saturn; one moon (Titan) was visible against the still bright sky. Seeing was not improving. At 1954 MST, three moons were now visible. A fourth moon became visible at 1958 MST at 83X.

At 2000 MST, I began preparing the D7000 DSLR for 8" LX200-ACF prime focus imaging of Asteroid 1998 QE2 as it approached the Earth for its closest approach on Friday, 31 May 2013. Closest approach would be during the daytime at my location, so I had decided to image it the night before. At 2103 MST, the first Kissing Bug of the night was seen and terminated. At 2010 MST, a second Kissing Bug was seen; that one got away.

There was no nuisance light on the hill to the east again tonight. However, the bright floodlights to the north remained on. I decided to have a visit with the neighbor. I left the observatory at 2030 MST for the short walk across the road. I met with the wife; she was very understanding and cooperative, even giving me their phone number in case I needed to call them in the future. She turned off the floodlights. Many thanks neighbor! I returned to the observatory at 2042 MST.

I connected the iPhone 4 to the telescope using the GC Wi-Fi Adapter and used SkySafari Pro to GOTO the location of Asteroid 1998 QE2. At 2050 MST, I began searching the star field at 83X for the asteroid. Within 5 minutes, I had detected what appeared to the asteroid and by 2058 MST, I had confirmed the motion visually. The asteroid was moving very fast and was surprisingly bright.

I began imaging Asteroid 1998 QE2, prime focus, ISO 6400, at 2115 MST. The first exposure was 1 minute. Motion of the asteroid was very evident, as seen in this cropped image:


Seeing and not very good tracking resulted in some star trailing. I repeated the exposure every three minutes, first with another 1 minute exposure, then three 30 second exposures, followed by a final 1 minute exposure. The images were combined for this animated GIF:


For more on Asteroid 1998 QE2, see this article by David Dickinson at Universe Today.

I ended imaging at 2131 MST. Since I would be returning to the observatory early Friday morning for the ISS-Moon transit, I began closing up. Just prior to closing, I terminated Kissing Bug #3.

The observatory was closed at 2155 MST, 74°F.

Comments are welcome; use the Comments section below, or you can Email Me. Thanks.

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