I'm going to be posting up a few images of asteroids that I have been tracking down lately because they are just SO COOL! To actually be able to see and track them across the sky, as the animation above shows highlights our universe above our heads always has something going on for us backyard stargazers, if we are willing to go off the beaten path from time to time.
The asteroid is Ampella and it's currently trekking across the constellation Gemini at a respectable magnitude 11.9. It lies just 1.6 AU from us here on Earth, or about 149 MILLION miles from us folks! As you can see, in the span of just a tad oven an hour, it moved quite a bit and should be easy to notice moving among the static background stars in my animated GIF above.
Want to hunt down Ampella for yourself? Well its actually rather easy to find the general neighborhood Ampella is currently travelling in, which is in Gemini and just about between Gamma Gem and Mu Gem. I have a finder chart below, and the tick marks represent its position for the next 20 days.
|Finder Chart courtesy of SkyTools3|
|Finder charts created via SkyTools3|
Get out and track this one down yourself, it's not the brightest asteroid currently visible, but since when do we backyard stargazers let only bright objects spend time at the eyepiece? My bet is you'll get hooked on tracking down these asteroids, and it makes a wonderful nightly, weekly or even monthly observing challenge to image or sketch there motion through our solar system.