Two asteroids are about to appear very close together in the morning sky. If you have a telescope and know where to look, you can see them. Continue reading →
¡SkyCaramba! Weekly astronomy blog for the week ending January 25, 2014
Two asteroids are about to appear very close together in the morning sky. If you have a telescope and know where to look, you can see them.
Asteroid 433 Eros was discovered in 1898. It’s considered a near-Earth asteroid and is the first known to cross the orbit of Mars. It passed about 16 million miles (27 million kilometers) from Earth on Jan. 31, 2012.
A space probe named NEAR Shoemaker visited Eros in 1998 and 2000. The space probe wasn’t supposed to visit twice. A malfunction caused it to tumble by the asteroid in 1998. Fortunately for all interested in its mission, NEAR Shoemaker righted itself by firing thrusters thousands of times until it wasn’t tumbling anymore and could communicate with mission control on Earth.
Mission control personnel came up with a plan to get NEAR Shoemaker back on track for another Eros flyby. The probe couldn’t head straight back to the asteroid. So mission control told it ...