Monday, January 26, 2015

Massive Asteroid BL86 Approaches Earth

Mountain-sized asteroid BL86 came hurtling towards its near-miss with earth today, and I caught it on my camera as it approached late Sunday night. Here's the time-lapse video, both an edge to edge 16:9 crop at 200mm, then a second copy cropped to 1080p. Look in the center as it moves from lower right center to upper left center:

 Both clips in the video were assembled from 119 separate images of the sky, taken with a full frame DSLR and 70-200 mm lens, on a star-tracking mount. Here's a composite image assembled from the first 60 photos.

If you missed the asteroid Sunday and Monday, +NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a chart to help you find it in the sky into the night of Tuesday, January 27 in the U.S., Wednesday January 28 GMT:

Although the asteroid is bright enough to see with binoculars, it probably won't do you much good to try to find it that way. The asteroid moves so slowly, it's very difficult to tell from the smaller stars in the background.  In the time-lapse video you see it move because several minutes of time are shown in each second of video.

Since it's easier to see the asteroid that way, I just pointed my camera where the asteroid should be, and I set an external timer to have it capture photos for a couple of hours. I used a star-tracking mount so the area of sky it was in wouldn't move away form where the camera was pointing.

 For the video, you can adjust the playback on YouTube from its standard low resolution playback to as high as 1080p HD.

 I also have a copy down-converted to 720p HD on Vimeo if that works better for your Internet connection:

Asteroid BL86 Approaches Earth from Jeff Sullivan on Vimeo.