Amateur skywatchers in Tenerife find ‘impact threat’ asteroid

Amateur astronomers have for the first time spotted an asteroid that comes close enough to earth to pose a threat of impact.

Volunteers picked out the cosmic rock – named asteroid 2011 SF108 – last month from the observatory in the Canary Islands.

The breakthrough discovery could signal the first of many more asteroid sighting around the world as keen amateurs become more equipped with advanced technology.

Space experts said the sighting highlighting the value of ‘crowd-sourcing’ to science and planetary defense.

The discovery of asteroid 2011 SF108 was made by the volunteer Teide Observatory Tenerife Asteroid Survey (TOTAS) team during an observation slot sponsored by ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program.

The four-night survey used the 1m-aperture telescope at ESA’s Optical Ground Station at Teide on Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

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