Observations of 2008QT3


The evening of October 26, 2011, Mark Trueblood, Robert Crawford, and Larry Lebofsky used the Kitt Peak 2.1-m telescope to observe Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) 2008 QT3. At the time of observation, this asteroid was classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), meaning its computed orbit would bring it within 0.05 astronomical units of Earth (1 AU is the mean distance from the Earth to the Sun) and it had an estimated size of at least 150 meters across. We observed this object because it was bright (V ~ 17) and moving at a good speed for testing PhAst, a photometry and astrometry tool written by Morgan Rehnberg. Morgan had been a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) summmer intern at NOAO working with Mark and Robert to enhance the IDL tool ATV to customize it for their research.

Morgan made the following images:

The above movie and images are courtesy National Optical Astronomy Observatory / Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy / National Science Foundation.

The Field of View of the 2.1-m telescope with the CFIM imager and T2KB CCD is about 10 arc minutes on a side. The movie and still frame are about 3.1 armin on a side, while the zoomed in frame is about 0.7 arcmin on a side. Each integration was about 2 minutes with about 45 seconds to read out, so the whole sequence took about 12 minutes to record.

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) issued a press release concerning Morgan's work on Monday, November 21, 2011 and posted it on the home page of their web site. The article describes what the PhAst tool does and how it was used to reduce the raw image frames of 2008 QT3. Within hours, several web sites around the world picked up the story:

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