Spotting asteroid Florence

Asteroid 3122 Florence was discovered in 1981. It’s named in honour of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing. With a diameter of ~4.3 km, Florence is among the largest of the near-Earth asteroids.

ESA’s Rüdiger Jehn, co-manager for NEO activities in the Agency’s Space Situational Awareness Programme office, says:

My students plotted the apparent magnitude of Florence for 2017. In the chart, you can see that on 1 September, the magnitude drops below 9 and it will be visible with decent binoculars for a few days. In the last decade, only two NEOs passing Earth were brighter: Eros on 31 Jan 2012 (mag: 8.2) and Duende on 15 Feb 2013 (mag: 6.7). So it’s a perfect opportunity for amateurs to hunt for asteroids! To check that your binoculars can see a magnitude 9 object, I suggest that you look first for Neptune (mag: 7.8) in the constellation Aquarius and if you see even fainter stars around Neptune, you should also be able to spot asteroid Florence.

Magnitude for Florence Credit: ESA

Magnitude for Florence Credit: ESA

PS: Pass-by distance will be about 7 mn km. More information on asteroids via neo.ssa.esa.int

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