My dotAstronomy pal Edward Gomez from the Las Cumbres Observatory is reporting that a man-made object has been spotted orbiting the sun. First noticed in the Catalina Sky Survey on May 16, it was thought to be an asteroid, but then, because of its very circular and low-inclined orbit, Richard Miles, using the Faulkes Telescope North realized it could be man-made. Now dubbed 2010 KQ, it orbits the Sun every 1.04 years, and on May 21 it came within 1.28 lunar-distances of the Earth. Miles captured this image of the object, above, and spectral analysis of 2010 KQ is consistent with UV-aged titanium dioxide paint. What could it be?
Gomez says Miles believes it could be the 4th stage of a Russian Proton rocket which launched the Luna 23 lunar sample return attempt, which was launched on October 28, 1974 and reached lunar orbit in November of that year.
Read more about it, including info on how you could possibly track the object as well, on Edward’s blog. Hopefully we’ll hear more about Miles’ observations, too.