The Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Maunakea is protecting the Earth by monitoring asteroids that enter Earth’s neighbourhood. On their first night back after resuming operations, CFHT observed the near-Earth asteroid 2006QV89. This asteroid was first discovered back in 2006, but it wasn’t until this summer that it was visible from Earth again. Much in the same way that meteorologists use weather satellite imagery to track hurricanes, astronomers can use telescopes to track asteroids near the Earth to determine whether they represent an impact hazard. This particular object was predicted to be on a trajectory that could cause it to hit Earth this year, however, observations from the Very Large Telescope in Chile last month did not see the asteroid where it was supposed to be. Thankfully, making use of the wide-field camera on CFHT, astronomers were able to find this asteroid in the sky once again and rule out any potential future impact threat to the Earth over the next century. This result is another example of the wide range of science that can be done with telescopes on Maunakea.
Learn more about this finding in the CFHT press release.