I woke up past 1:00 PM today because I spent my early morning on our rooftop. Asteroid 2012 DA14 was due to flyby Earth and I was really delighted that we’d get the chance to see it on this part of the world. So straight from work, I arrived at home around 1:30 AM and I had to rush fixing my things so I’d be ready before that moment started.
I have my telescope with me, as well my brother’s bridge camera, a GE X500 and a star chart of the asteroid’s path I have obtained from Mr. Eteny’s website, Night Sky in Focus. I had a hard time looking for my eyepieces, though, because my mother had fixed my telescope and I wasn’t able to immediately find where she put them. I spent the last 20 minutes looking for them and it was already past 2:00 AM when I was finally able to go to our rooftop.
Honestly, it was way more difficult from what I had already expected, and locating the asteroid in the star map was tasking as I had to consider the relative distance of each celestial object/asterism from one another. LOL I just need more practice, I guess, because I’m honestly not a regular observer. The first three photos I got below were surprisingly able to yield results, and I believe I might have just photographed the fast-moving asteroid. I just used the ‘Aperture’ priority setting of the camera, in the lowest possible focal length at 3.0, chose the ‘Fluorescent’ color setting, put it on a 30-second interval and prayed to get decent photos. The three photos below show the asteroid moving to the right of Crux, the Southern Cross. I checked the time signature of the three photos and they reflect 2:22:38 AM, 2:23:20 AM and 2:24:02 AM. I just adjusted them using “Auto Levels” in Adobe Photoshop and added crosshairs to point at the location of the asteroid.
Decent pictures I guess, given the limited capabilities of my digital camera, so I furthermore edited the color, brightness and contrast, as well zoomed in and cropped the three photos. I also used the animated GIF-maker, Jasc Software, to animate the photos and make them move, showing intervals of about 30 seconds each.
I have tried looking for the asteroid with my telescope, and I had no luck even with the low power eyepiece. So I just ditched the telescope and spent the next hours trying to photograph the asteroid. But alas, I might have already lost track of its location and even when I consulted the star chart, the clouds went on the way and I just wanna burn them off — as if that would happen as they are made of water. LOL Looking at the photos (lots of photos) I have taken last night, I had a better appreciation and developed more respect to Clyde Tombaugh and the blink comparator technique used to confirm the existence of Pluto (as well as the astronomers tirelessly working on identifying asteroids/comets). From one photo to another, I had to look for a seemingly moving object just to see the asteroid. It was very tiring as I also had to first adjust the brightness and contrast in Photoshop, so I eventually gave up. I’ll just deal with them when I have more time in the future, but I’m still happy with the first three photos I have taken.
Looking at both of my feet, I’ve noticed I have LOTS of ugly mosquito bites. They had a field day on my feet during that attempt to see the asteroid. Yikes! I was too preoccupied in getting to the rooftop that I have completely forgotten to put on some Off! lotion. If only I had not brought a hoodie with me, then my arms could have suffered the same fate. Anyway, it was a very good experience, especially I also saw three shooting stars fly past and I had to shake myself off from the shock of seeing them and make a necessary wish. I had three wishes in all and one includes a new telescope for real. ^_^