Last week, Florence became the largest asteroid to come so close to earth and to observe this, scientists used the advanced features of Unistellar’s eVscope located on the outskirts of San Francisco. The first attempt to capture the image of an asteroid using the advanced Autonomous Field Detection (ADF) feature of eVscope, became a huge success as you can see the image captured just after three minutes of observing the asteroid through the eyepiece of the telescope.
Asteroid Florence was discovered by astronomer Bobby Bus in 1981, and it is considered as an important asteroid having highly reflective rocky surface and a diameter of around 4.4 km. The huge asteroid came record-breaking closure to Earth and was just 4.4 million miles away from earth before it changed its trajectory. To perfectly witness the Florence, the eVscope was taken to Golden Gate Bridge close to Mount Tamalpais and then after pointing towards the general direction of constellation Delphinus, AFD was activated and the position was taken towards the asteroid. After some minutes a tiny streak of light appeared on the eyepiece and guess what!! Florence was successfully captured.
Florence was easily detected because it was moving with respect to the stars that acted as the point sources. As Florence was very close to earth and was moving slowly in its trajectory, eVscope was able to capture detailed images of the huge asteroid. It is not the first time that the eVscope has successfully observed an asteroid. Earlier on April 19, it successfully traced asteroid 2014 JO25 without the help of AFD.
In the coming years, images of asteroids captured by Unistellar telescope owners will be kept stored inside a SETI Institute database, where they will be available for use by young astronomers and amateur scientists. The goal is to provide both experts and layman the freedom to extract important and valuable information about the asteroids including their size, their orbit and the spin period. Early detection of the asteroids and their properties through eVscopes will enable us to quickly figure out whether the asteroid will pose any threat to Earth or not.