Abu Dhabi observatory captures closest asteroid passage in over a decade. Image Credit: @AstronomyCenter/X

Abu Dhabi: The skies above the Abu Dhabi Desert witnessed a remarkable astronomical event on Saturday evening. A potentially hazardous asteroid, traveling relatively close to Earth between our planet and the Moon, illuminated the night sky.

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The rare phenomenon occurred at a proximity of approximately 295,000 kilometers, marking the brightest asteroid passage observed in the last 12 years.

The Seal Observatory, situated in the heart of the Abu Dhabi desert, captured the event. They captured a 12-second accelerated video, stitching together 129 images, each taken 1.5 seconds apart. In the video, the asteroid appears as a fleeting dot traversing across the starlit sky, a mesmerizing sight for both amateur stargazers and professional astronomers alike.

In addition to the video, the observatory conducted detailed photometric observations to measure and analyze the asteroid's brightness over time.

Preliminary analysis suggests the asteroid completes a rotation on its axis every 40.3 minutes, as evidenced by periodic changes in its luminosity. Such a rapid rotation rate typically indicates that the asteroid has a highly irregular shape, deviating significantly from the more common spherical or 'potato-bean' shapes seen in smaller asteroids.