Image of the Month - April 2005

Rosetta Fly By

On it's way to comet comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the European spacecraft Rosetta approached the Earth again on March 4, 2004, about a year after it was started. This swing by was the first approach to the Earth, and two more gravity assist maneuvers with the Earth and one with Mars are scheduled on the probe's route to the comet. Furthermore, Rosetta will visit two asteroids, (2867) Steins in September 2008 and (21) Lutetia in July 2010.

Credit & Copyright: Erich Meyer, Davidschlag Observatory, Austria

Many amateur astronomers, and even some professional observers, took the that opportunity to capture images of the spacecraft. Among them was Erich Meyer, who took this 15 second exposure on 2005 March 04 at 20:10 UT, with a SBIG ST-6 CCD camera at the prime focus of the 0.6m reflector of the Davidschlag Observatory near Linz, Austria. The telescope tracked the probe, which moved 8.5'/minute, so the background stars appear as long trails. The bright trail close to Rosetta was caused by the 8,9mag star HIP 49194.

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