About 20 years ago, my friend Brian Skiff named one of the asteroids he
discovered at Lowell Observatory in 1983 after me. Minor Planet 4078 Polakis
is about 12 miles in diameter, and takes five years to orbit the sun. It is
currently in nearly the opposite direction as the sun. In addition to these
images I took last night, I will observe it over the next couple nights.
I'll measure the variation in the asteroid's brightness, which is used to
determine its rotation period and shape.
This animation of 123 images shows about nine hours of motion across a field
of view that's roughly 11'x7'. They are all 2-minute exposures through a 12
1/2-inch telescope in Tempe. The asteroid is currently about magnitude 15.4,
and varying by nearly a half magnitude as it rotates.
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