Mysterious space object dubbed 1991 VG was first observed on 6 November 1991 by James Scotti, an astronomer and research specialist at the Lunar and Planetary Lab of the University of Arizona.
Scotti was at the lab’s Kitts Peak (Arizona) telescope and while tweaking various settings beyond the usual range, he spotted an odd thing which he christened 1991 VG.
“It was a magnitude V=20.7 object moving with rates typical of a Near-Earth Asteroid.”
V factor measures of the brightness of the object. From there a complex formula links the brightness to the object’s size.
“From the photometry we did we can say that if the objects’ albedo is low, around 5%, it is about 19 meters in diameter. If it is around 20%, then it is about 9 meters in diameter. If it were a perfect mirror it could be as small as about 4 meters in diameter.”
Nowadays, many conspiracy theorists believe this is a real “alien probe” which is set to come closed and fly near Earth in 2017.
Natural or artificial?
The object created confusion among astronomers because of its odd rotation and longevity in the outer space. Some argue that it’s a section of the Apollo 12 rocket, but Jim Scotti believes the weird space junk might be something else.
“We took into account also the possibility of a man-made object. There were several spacecraft and rocket bodies that could be 1991 VG, but after a detailed analysis, we ruled out this hypothesis,” said Scotti.
The opinions remain yet divided with some folks being convinced that the strange object is a secret Soviet rocket of the Space Race era (1957-1975).
It is widely known that the Soviet space rockets were as powerful as those developed by the US and there is a possibility that the former Communist empire launched such a rocket to the Moon and hid this fact because of a mishap or something which did not go according to plan.
When it was first spotted, the object was about 10 meters in diameter and located at a distance of approximately 451 000 km from Earth and about 80 467 km from the Moon.
This indicates an increased rate of rotation and brightness fluctuations. At that time, such a behavior had not been noticed at another asteroid of similar size. Furthermore 1991VG has an Earth-like orbit.