Sunday, June 9, 2013

Asteroid 1998 QE2

Asteroid 1998 QE2 passed relatively close to Earth back on May 31, 2013. It remained relatively bright for several days after its closest approach, and I was able to capture it with my ST80 on June 3rd.

1998 QE2 is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Object because its orbit may occasionally bring it close to Earth. It is unlikely that 1998 QE2 will ever pose a significant threat, though.

Below is a link to a movie composed of 100 30-second exposures made at ISO-6400 with my Canon EOS Rebel T3 (1100D). The exposures start at approximately 9:47 PM CDT and end around 11:09 PM CDT. The bright star near the bottom is Yed Posterior in Ophiucus. Several satellites can be seen streaking through the video.

1998 QE2 Movie

I had to manually remove the effects of periodic error and bad polar alignment from each frame. The image below illustrates the effects of these errors over time. It is a combination of all 100 images compiled in Startrails. The up/down oscillation is due to periodic error, while the progression from left-to-right is the result of incorrect polar alignment. Autoguiding, Periodic Error Correction and various alignment techniques can reduce or remove these effects. Sadly, my mount does not support autoguiding or PEC.

The effects of periodic error (up/down oscillations) and misalignment (progression from left-to-right).

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