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Meet 2020 AV2, the 1st asteroid entirely within the orbit of Venus | Space

Asteroid 2020 AV2 on January 8, 2020. The picture is a composite, consisting of 14 60-second exposures, remotely collected with the Elena robotic unit obtainable at the Virtual Telescope Project. The asteroid – 2020 AV2 – is indicated by a white arrow. Image through VirtualTelescope.eu.

Originally revealed at VirtualTelescope.eu. Reprinted right here with permission.

Among lots of of hundreds of identified asteroids, solely 21 ones are identified/suspected to have an orbit entirely inside that of the Earth. The simply found 2020 AV2 is the first one to maneuver entirely inside the orbit of Venus. That reality makes it a really particular object. The Virtual Telescope Project contributed to substantiate its discovery, and we’re proud to current our picture (above).

This object is actually particular: it’s the first one ever discovered on an orbit entirely inside that of Venus.

We know fairly a quantity of asteroids. The Minor Planet Center stated on May 18, 2019, that it has about 792,000 orbits in its archives. These asteroids are orbiting round the solar at distances spanning a really giant vary. If we question that database, asking what number of of these objects have an orbit entirely inside of the Earth, we get again solely 21 asteroids. Clearly, these Inner-Earth Objects, or IEOs – outlined by their aphelia Q

You can simply perceive why discovering an IEO is difficult. Ask your self: what number of instances have I seen Jupiter? How many instances have I seen Mercury? Very doubtless, you noticed the former far more typically than the latter. Why? Because Mercury’s orbit is nicely inside that of the Earth, so you possibly can see the innermost planet solely at nightfall, low on the horizon and for a short while.

In different phrases, from the Earth, you possibly can by no means see Mercury (and Venus, for the identical cause) in full darkness and excessive in the sky, when observing circumstances could be significantly better and far more technically possible for the telescopes concerned in most survey tasks. This problem provides to the anticipated small quantity of IEOs on the market, estimated to be simply 2% of the extra widespread near-Earth objects (NEOs).

The intervenusian objects – with orbits entirely within the orbit of Venus – are even more durable to search out.

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Orbits of Earth, Venus, Mercury, with the asteroid's orbit between Venus's and Mercury's orbits.

The orbit of asteroid 2020 AV2, through NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Many years in the past, I studied the downside of discovering Inner-Earth Objects in depth. It was the subject of my diploma thesis, and I revealed the outcomes on Icarus, suggesting a doable technique to search for them. I remembered this to clarify how a lot I’m fascinated with these very particular objects.

On January 4, 2020, the Minor Planet Center reported the discovery by the Palomar Transient Factory of an object labeled ZTF09k5. Its very preliminary orbit indicated it was, certainly, a really attention-grabbing discovering: it was doubtless spending all its time round the solar inside the orbit of Venus.

Needless to say, as quickly as I realized about it, I needed to watch this object through the Virtual Telescope Project and contribute to its discovery. Unfortunately, I needed to face clouds for a number of days, making unimaginable to watch such a really low object at nightfall. Last night time, ultimately, the climate was with me, and shortly after sundown I managed to rigorously put together the robotic telescope in Ceccano, Italy, a website acknowledged by the Minor Planet Center with the code 470.

I had roughly 30 minutes to attempt!

Taking these photographs was laborious, as a result of the object was fairly low (25 levels or much less) above the western horizon, at nightfall. The sky background was shiny, an virtually full moon was up in the sky too and the goal was decrease and decrease, minute after minute.

Carefully combining the photographs, taking the obvious movement of the object under consideration, I might document ZTF09k5, measure its positions and ship them to the Minor Planet Center by electronic mail. A couple of hours later, the Minor Planet Center issued the discovery round MPEC 2020-A99, with the object now named 2020 AV2 and together with my observations (indicated by my observatory code 470 – Ceccano).

Now, I’m happy to share the picture of this uncommon object with you.

Now we all know that 2020 AV2 actually has its orbit entirely inside that of Venus, so being the first one of this type to be ever found; additionally, it’s the pure object with the smallest identified aphelion distance in our photo voltaic system (excluding planet Mercury).

With asteroid 2019 AQ3, found by the identical group, 2020 AV2 has the shortest orbital interval identified thus far in the asteroid inhabitants.

Keep wanting up!

Short, thick telescope with wires trailing from it, standing on mounting outdoors.

The Planevawe 17?-f/6.8 (432/2939 mm) Corrected Dall-Kirkham Astrograph telescope. It is known as “Elena” after Elena Persichilli (1940-2016), Gianluca Masi’s mom. This telescope was used to acquire the time at high of 2020 AV2. Image through Virtual Telescope Project.

Bottom line: Report from Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project, based mostly in Rome, on his participation in the affirmation of 2020 AV2, the first identified asteroid to orbit entirely within the orbit of Venus.

Gianluca Masi

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