Newly-discovered asteroid 2011 GP59 is flying past Earth today, April 15th, not far beyond the orbit of the Moon (1.4 LD). There’s no danger of a collision, but the 50-meter space rock is remarkable: It is elongated and spinning once every 7.5 minutes. This causes the asteroid to flash like a strobe light.A video taken by Joe Pollock of Appalachian State University on April 11th shows the effect nicely. Experienced amateur astronomers using mid-sized telescopes can watch 2011 GP59 strobe through the constellations Virgo and Hydra tonight with a peak brightness near 13th magnitude. (SpaceWeather)
The Mpec circular 2011-G60 issued on April 09, 2011 announced the discovery of a new Aten asteroid officially designated 2011 GP59. This asteroid (~ magnitude 17.5) was discovered by La Sagra Surveythrough their 0.45-m f/2.8 reflector + CCD, on images obtained on April 08.9, 2011. After posting on the Minor Planet Center’s ‘NEOCP’ webpage, other CCD astrometrists have been able to follow-up the new object to define its orbit.
According to the preliminay orbit, 2011 GP59 is an Aten type asteroid. This class of asteroids are defined by having semi-major axes of less than one astronomical unit (the distance from the Earth to the Sun). 2011 GP59 will have a close approach with Earth on April 15, 2011 at 1909 UTC at rougly 0.003567AU or 1.39 LD (Lunar Distance) reaching the magnitude ~13. Its absolute magnitude H=24.30 correspond to an approximate diameter of 50 meters.
2011 GP59 shows evident . Below you can see a light-curve made by Brian Skiff (Lowell Observatory): 6-hours of observations using the Lowell 0.55-m Schmidt with 45-second exposures showing an amplitude in excess of 2 full magnitudes over a period of roughly 7.5 minutes. (RemanzaccoObservatory)
If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.
Your support makes a difference
Dear valued reader,
We hope that our website has been a valuable resource for you.
The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and resources to maintain and grow this website. We rely on the support of readers like you to keep providing high-quality content.
If you have found our website to be helpful, please consider making a contribution to help us continue to bring you the information you need. Your support means the world to us and helps us to keep doing what we love.
Support us by choosing your support level – Silver, Gold or Platinum. Other support options include Patreon pledges and sending us a one-off payment using PayPal.
Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.