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Critical Observation Made on Maunakea During First Night of Return to Operations

13 Aug 2019, 21:54 UTC
Critical Observation Made on Maunakea During First Night of Return to Operations
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The existing astronomical observatories on Maunakea returned to operations this weekend, and it didn’t take long for a significant result to be achieved, not only for science, but for assuring the safety of the Earth.Observations of the near-Earth asteroid 2006 QV89 made on August 11 with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) have ruled out any potential future impact threat to the Earth by this asteroid for the next century.2006 QV89 was discovered on August 29, 2006, with a telescope in Arizona, and observations were only possible through September 8, 2006, when the asteroid became unobservable from telescopes on Earth. The orbit determined from these limited observations had significant uncertainty, and it was not possible to rule out the low probability of the asteroid impacting Earth in the future, possibly as early as 2019. Last month, observations with the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile did not find the asteroid where it would have appeared if it was on a trajectory that would impact Earth this September. This ruled out an impact in 2019, but an impact for 2020 remained a possibility, along with nearly two dozen more over the next hundred years, with eight of those in ...

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