Saturday, February 16, 2008

1.6 km asteroid to pass by Earth on Feb. 19 - at 6 mio. km, with 12th mag.

It will be brightest - around 12.5 mag. - from Feb. 15 to 18 and closest to Earth late on the 19th: asteroid (4450) Pan will keep a safe 6.1 million km from Earth then, but it's substantial size makes the flyby quite interesting. A special webpage already contains a smooth video of Feb. 13. Pan is not the only 12.5 mag. asteroid in Earth's proximity right now: The other one is the first triple NEO! Also a cool fisheye image of a fireball on Feb. 11.

In other news the installation of the exterior Columbus equipment, including three solar instruments, went without a hitch during the final STS-122 EVA on Feb 15. Plus the ISS in front of the Moon - and from the 2nd EVA a remarkable hi-res picture of Hans Schlegel in action, reminding many of famous SF movies ...

And more details about the satellite 'engagement', beyond what was said on the 14th are slowly coming through - while the motivation for the DoD to do it is being questioned all over the place, with sober views an exception. Also: detailled instructions for observing USA 193 - this is pretty easy and could actually improve knowledge of its decaying orbit. More amateur images of the doomed satellite are already coming in.

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