4/29/2020 Asteroid 1998 OR2 Flyby – Mini Gallery

Riverside, CA

Weather: Clear – Mild, calm, humid >75%. 77°F (16°C).
Observing Time: 22:00 -23:30 (UTC -7)
Bortle Scale: 7

4-28-20-asteroid-1998-or2 unprocessed

The image above is a non-processed image, covering a square degree of the patch of sky where 1998 OR2 was moving through. As you can tell, it’s not easy to spot, and I doubt that people trying to view through a telescope with just their eyes would have been able to see it under light polluted skies.

4-28-20-asteroid-1998-or2 lapse
This is a lapse image, showing a different position every 1-2 minutes between 5:56 UTC and 6:09 UTC. The asteroid actually occulted a dim star for a little bit!



The trip into my backyard was absolutely grueling! I only had to carry my equipment and set up about 30 feet from the back office, and my car consumed no gasoline in the process. Wow, what a nightmare!

Knowing that 1. an 8″ telescope can theoretically pick up anything brighter than magnitude 14, and 2. a first quarter moon was going to play a factor in sky brightness regardless of where I went, I figured it was worth a try to see if it could even get the magnitude 11 asteroid through the Class 7 light polluted sky. Why waste the gas when you know that moon will make a 2-3 hour trip to Rice/Amboy pretty much pointless?

SkyView Mount go to system aligned and performed well as usual. Sure enough, it took a while for me to make out any differences in movement between any images, and I had to keep checking the live star charts provided by TheSkyLive  to make sure I was even on the correct spot.  But eventually I was able to find the object, and I continued snapping 30 second exposures until my low battery went out.

Why didn’t I treat this like a normal trip where I make sure everything is charged and ready to go? Because I wanted to merely test out my telescope to see if I could even spot it

It should be noted that with the setup and levels of light pollution involved, magnitude 11 points of light are probably the limit for Class 7 Riverside.

Thankfully, Photoshop has proven to be a reliable friend, and because I was dealing with only points of light rather than my usual diffuse objects, adjusting the contrast and levels to black out the light pollution made the finished images dark enough with no detail loss.

These images were technically taken on April 28 from Southern California (UTC-7), but in accordance with UTC, they were actually taken on the 29th of April proper.  Plus, as fate has it, the next day over Southern California had too much moisture and clouds blocking the sky, making it impossible to catch the flyby anyway!  The funny thing is when I observed the flyby, after I looked at the humidity levels, I uttered, “no wonder I was sweating out there!”

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