I recorded this close approach of asteroid 1999KW4 flying by the other night. I’ve finally worked out how to set my mount to track the asteroid itself and made this video as it glided safely past. BTW, its listed as a potentially hazardous object (PHO) because it can come within 7,500,000 km of earth at some time, which seels a long way, but is actually close enough to be of some concern should its orbit ever get changed!

“The Beast”

I made my second broadcast with the Slooh team yesterday, this time a live show with the potentially hazardous asteroid 2014 HQ124, fondly known as the beast.

It was top fun and the Slooh guys had lined up some really informed experts to lend commentary to the event – its certainly worth watching through the near 70 mins of broadcast if you are interested in near earth objects. If you make it to the end, you will find me waffling on about my kit. Of course, having had almost no sleep in the run up, I was only semi-coherent, but you’ll get my drift!

All in all, a very good show and with an interesting rock plodding on by…

2014 DX110

This one came from nowhere!

2014 DX110 was discovered only three days ago, and flew by tonight at less than a Moons distance from us. It is on the Possible Impactors list with an impact with Earth scheduled for 2046 – As we learn more, and refine the known orbit, we will hopefully remove it from the list!!!

Whilst it’s probably under 50m, I still would prefer to avoid it (if I live that long)

Sorry for the poor quality, it was a misty night and low in the North…

2013 NJ comes out to play

Well, after weeks of cloud, I get a break just when I needed it! NEO 2013 NJ has been on my hit list for a while and its a deep southern object, not unlike 2012 DA14 for that matter, and a reasonable mag 14. These Earth skimming rocks are quite fast moving and at 2.5 Lunar distances this one is going at nearly an arc min every min – which means it can be seen clearly moving in real time.

Here’s the Youtube: It’s been getting a fair pounding thanks to a plug on Universe today and a retweet by the MPC

1998QE2 Makes its close aproach

I can’t believe its been a week already and I haven’t followed up with the latest video! Here is the close approach last Friday from ‘the valley’. It was a splendid sight moving much brighter through the sky on its journey North. If you watch closely, you will see an artificial satellite and a meteor streaking through the sky at the same time. Outer space is a lot busier than you would imagine!

I’m afraid that there are no other great NEO events coming up soon, but we never know when something unexpected will arrive 🙂

NEO 1998 QE2 is on its way!

The press say this rock is 19 times longer than the ocean liner the QE2 – that makes it many hundred times bigger! Fortunately it will sail by at 3.5 lunar distances away on the 1st of June. The nice part though is that it will have brightened to mag 10 and will be a joy to watch.

Here’s a preview I recorded recently:

NASA’s 2012 DA14 Broadcast

When I heard of the NEO 2012 DA14 last year, I knew it was going to be a special object. This 40m rock would be the closest ‘miss’ that had ever been discovered and would be coming so close, it would pass between us and our outer satellites and would have exploded with the power of over 200 Hiroshima bombs had it hit the Earth! And it would be a uniquely antipodean event too – traveling from South to North, its approach would only be visible from Australasia.

I had already prepared myself to capture the event but I was quite unprepared when NASA came metaphorically knocking at the door. The bush fires had taken Australia’s principle professional observatory at Siding Spring offline and they were looking for someone on the East coast with the knowledge and equipment to broadcast the event to their global audience. After some research, they had made a shortlist of one; me!

The lead up to the event was tense, with appalling weather spoiling two rehearsals with the team at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in California. On the evening of the event things were looking grim as the clouds persisted. At 10:30 a break in the clouds allowed me to get the first ever video footage of the object coming towards us and NASA were delighted! They were on the phone to me within moments of my sending the clip and straight away they published it to news agencies across the globe. By 2am on Saturday the clouds parted and allowed me nearly three solid hours of broadcast live on NASA TV and as dawn came, I handed the baton to a Perth based observatory to continue.

The gravitas of the occasion had only been added to by the meteor strike in Russia the day before; by the morning I had nearly half a million viewers watching on line, and by the end of the broadcast nearly 7 million had tuned in for at least part of the show which was one of their most viewed live broadcasts in recent years and certainly their best ever webcast.

NASA publishes first DA14 footage worldwide

The back story to this is funny! We had been rehearsing the broadcast for a week and every night it had been cloudy in Samford, and the Perth team had all sorts of technical issues that had them scratching their collective heads. So on the eve of the broadcast, and shortly after the Chelyabinsk meteorite smashed to Earth, NASA had seen nothing!

It was cloudy on the night too, but ever optimistic, I pointed the scope to where the scope would be if the clouds would part. And at around 10:30, the clouds did part sufficiently to locate and record the first ever video footage of 2012 DA14 coming towards us! It was a massive relief to everybody and NASA took the footage and went global with it – even if the rock were not seen again from Oz, we had enough to make a show!

Of course, the night came good, but up to that point the tension was unbelievable…

2012 XE54

This one was a real Earth skimmer at 0.5 Lunar distances. A southern hemisphere object in poor weather conditions globally made this the only footage to be captured in the world! I fully expected to find it again the following evening, but the clouds rolled over here too…

2012 KP24

This one squeeked by at about 1/5th of a lunar distance – something like 50,000km. The rock was a small 25m in diameter but by my observation, probably miss-shapen as it was quite variable in brightness which suggests it was happily tumbling in space.

It was only 14 degrees above the horizon so the quality of the video is quite poor and I had to use half second exposures to see it properly, and there was only a very short window of opportunity to see it at all from my site.