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Apollo asteroid 2005 RV24 passing by NGC 7009 (the Saturn Nebula)

2005 RV24 was discovered by LINEAR on 9th September 2005 then picked up three days later with the 1.2-m reflector on Haleakala Hawaii as part of the NEAT survey. After appearing on the NEO Confirmation page further observations were reported on 13 September by James McGaha in Tucson and Robert Hutsebaut, operating a telescope in New Mexico remotely from Belgium. MPEC 2005-R58 was issued later that same day announcing the discovery.

It had passed Earth 5 days before discovery, tracking through Cygnus at magnitude +17, some 29 times further away than the Moon. It is an Apollo asteroid, with high eccentricity and a small perihelion distance of 0.18 AU, nearly twice as close to the Sun as Mercury. Heading swiftly south, fading and in conjunction with the nearly full Moon on 15th September, the object was caught from Great Shefford on the night of 14 September and the unusual shape of the Saturn Nebula was immediately apparent in the images.

In the co-added exposures used to reveal the NEO, the image of the planetary nebula is burnt out, so the inset has been processed by averaging rather than adding the 45 constituent images together. A logarithmic image stretch has also been used to enhance the fainter parts of the nebula.


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