Starmap, the world's first planetarium mobile application for the iPhone, announced today on their website that Spacemap is the only astronomy mobile application currently available that can display the orbit of the nearby passing asteroid 2005YU55 in 3D animation. The asteroid made headlines this week, including USA Today, because of its rare close proximity to Earth. Starmap founder and creator Frederic Descamps caught the asteroid with iPad using Spacemap, and videoed its course using the mobile application.
"Such are very rare in human time-scale, but quite frequent in geological scales." said Descamps. "We don't expect to see the next object flying so close to us within the next 15 years"
The asteroid should be visible for the next few days, and will come closer to the Earth than the moon this Tuesday, November 8. You can see the asteroid with Starmap and Starmap HD, but Spacemap is the only application available in the iTunes store that displays its orbit in 3D animation. Descamps' 3D animation video of 2005 YU55's orbit is currently on YouTube.
"Astronomers are permanently surveying these objects," said Descamps. "The problem is that the trajectories of such objects are complex, perturbed by planets and other asteroids, and maybe even by sunlight quite erratic and unknown. So when an object flies close to the Moon's orbit, it is very carefully monitored by scientists."
Descamps has provided detailed instructions on how to view the asteroid using Starmap or Spacemap on his website.
Starmap and Spacemap are both currently available in the iTunes store for 50% off the original price.
Spacemap 1.1 is $2.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Education category.