Thursday, December 6, 2012

Close Approach of Apollo Asteroid 2012 XZ6

M.P.E.C. 2012-X23, issued on 2012 Dec. 6, reports the discovery of the Apollo type asteroid 2012 XZ6 (discovery magnitude 15.4) by Catalina Sky Survey (mpc code 703) on images taken on December 05.3 with a 0.68-m Schmidt + CCD. 

2012 XZ6 has an estimated diameter of 290 m - 650 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=19.8). On December 01, 2012 this asteroid had a close approach with Earth at about 41.6 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.1069 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers). 2012 XZ6 reached the peak magnitude 15.9 during the period December 02-04, 2012.

We performed some follow-up measurements of this object while it was still on the Neocp, remotely from the H06 ITelescope network (near Mayhill, NM) on  2012, Dec. 05.44, through a 0.25-m f/3.4 reflector + CCD and from and remotely from the Siding Spring-Faulkes Telescope South (FTS) on 2012, Dec. 05.58, through a 2.0-m f/10.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD.

Below you can see our image, stack of 10x5-second exposures taken with the FTS, taken with the asteroid at magnitude ~16 and moving at ~16"/min. At the moment of the close approach on December 01, 2012 XZ6 was moving at ~ 19"/min. Click on the image below to see a bigger version. (North is up and East is to the left).

Below you can see a short animation showing the movement of 2012 XZ6 (10x5-second exposures). Click on the thumbnail for a bigger version:

Ernesto Guido & Nick Howes, for our friend/colleague Giovanni Sostero, who inspires us always.

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