This month, we’re dedicating our weekly observing challenges to asteroids in honor of Asteroid Day on June 30. While these space rocks can orbit more than 100 million miles from Earth, you can still observe them by watching for occultations, when an asteroid passes in front of a distant star. You can find more info on upcoming occultations with our handy Asteroid Occultations tool.
We’ve got a number of asteroids for you to hunt this week, including one considered potentially hazardous to Earth. Astronomers involved in Planetary Defense need citizen scientists to keep an extra sharp eye on these near-Earth asteroids. So, if you missed it last week, now’s your chance!
Asteroid 2271 Kiso
- Upcoming Asteroid Occultation: June 19, 2021 in Europe
- Classification: Main-Belt Asteroid
- Discovery: October 22, 1976 by astronomers Hiroki Kosai and Kiichirō Furukawa
2271 Kiso sits in the Main Asteroid Belt between Jupiter and Mars, located more than 100 million miles from Earth. This 19 mile (31 kilometer) wide asteroid was found in 1976 by prolific Japanese astronomers Hiroki Kasai and Kiichirō Furukawa, who together discovered almost 100 asteroids.
Asteroid 2003 WD158
- Planetary Defense Target: Visible June 11-30, 2021
- Classification: Apollo Class Near-Earth Asteroid/ Potentially Hazardous Asteroid
- Discovery: November 30, 2003 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project
The roughly half-mile long 2003 WD158 is making one of its closest approaches to Earth this June, passing just five million miles from our planet. Throughout the month, you can join astronomers watching this Potentially Hazardous Asteroid to help them better understand its shape and movements.
Want to hunt more asteroids?
Another great target is asteroid 2357 Phereclos, which will be visible across Europe on June 18. Phereclos is one of the largest Jupiter trojans known. Trojan asteroids are located in two groupings which orbit ahead and behind Jupiter, and they were most likely captured 4 billion years ago during Jupiter’s migration towards the Sun. These orbital time capsules likely contain clues about the history of our solar system!
We encourage you to share your observations and join the conversation through our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages using the hashtag #UnistellarChallenge!
If you’d like to send us your observations by email, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clear skies! 🔭