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Posted at 12:57 PM ET, 02/15/2013

Animated gif shows asteroid sailing through space

Credit: LCOGT/E. Gomez/Faulkes South/Remanzacco Observatory

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is on its way to a near-rendezvous with Earth. In the meantime, NASA has an animated gif comprising three images provided by astronomers at the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy. The astronomers may be in Italy, but they used a telescope, the Faulkes Telescope South, located in Siding Spring, Australia, to observe the asteroid and collect these images.

The asteroid is not the white streak — that’s a satellite. Rather, it’s the bright white dot that’s moving just to the left of the streak.

And then there’s this image obtained by NASA from “amateur astronomer” Dave Herald of Murrumbateman, Australia. At the center of the red targets is the asteroid. The image was created using 12 one-minute exposures and was taken on the morning of Feb. 12.

The white streaks are images of stars, trailed because the telescope was tracking the motion of the asteroid. At the time the image was taken, the asteroid was passing nearly in front of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae, located 17,000 light years away. (D. Herald - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

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