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, open your ad-free account and support our journalism.
Producing content you read on this website takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work. If you value what we do here, select the level of your support and register your account.
Your support makes this project fully self-sustainable and keeps us independent and focused on the content we love to create and share.
All our supporters can browse the website without ads, allowing much faster speeds and a clean interface. Your comments will be instantly approved and you’ll have a direct line of communication with us from within your account dashboard. You can suggest new features and apps and you’ll be able to use them before they go live.
You can choose the level of your support.
Stay kind, vigilant and ready!