The car's a star: Astronomers spot Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster zooming through space

Images show a tiny dot moving amongst the stars which stargazers claim is the Starman heading towards the asteroid belt in his bright red sportscar.

Press Association
Last updated:19 February 2018 - 05.20pm

Astronomers have observed Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster travelling through space using a telescope in Arizona.

Gianluca Masi, of the Virtual Telescope Project, and Michael Schwartz, founder of Tenagra Observatories, used data from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to direct a telescope towards the car and track its historic journey.

[Read more: Elon Musk hails ‘silly but fun’ SpaceX rocket launch]

The images show a tiny dot – believed to be the Roadster – moving amongst the stars.

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The vehicle was launched by Falcon Heavy – the world’s most powerful operational rocket built by SpaceX - on February 6.

Masi wrote in a blog post: “We slewed the scope where the JPL ephemerides placed the object and we found it there. So, we started capturing a few sequences of images.

“We immediately spotted the Tesla Roadster, quite bright, around mag 15.5 and moving image after image across the stars.

“At the time of our observations, the car was at about 470,000km from us.

“We managed to take dozens of images, and we used a group of them to show the trail of the object across the stars.”

The Deimos Sky Survey also managed to catch a glimpse of the cosmic car.

It's almost two weeks since SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The rocket's 27 engines generated more than five million pounds of thrust on lift-off as it carried Musk’s cherry-red Tesla Roadster into space.

The car, which has a mannequin dubbed “the Starman” strapped in the driver’s seat, is cruising toward the asteroid belt, well beyond Mars.

It is expected to play David Bowie’s Space Oddity on loop as it travels through space “for a billion years or so”, according to Musk.


Last pic of Starman in Roadster enroute to Mars orbit and then the Asteroid Belt

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

The car also features a Don’t Panic sign – a reference to Douglas Adams’s novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

The astronomers say they will continue to try to track the Tesla as it ventures further away.

Where is the roadster now? 

An engineer, Ben Pearson, has created a website that allows you to track Musk's roadster as it goes around the Solar System.

First reported by The Vergethe site is simply called Using data from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,  the site gives the car's location and speed as it hurtles through space. 

[Read more: SpaceX launches first rocket since explosion]