Sunday, January 25, 2015

Astroid in our earth neighborhood Monday, January 26, 2015

Astronomy Now magazine, (UK):  NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Press Release, 1/17/15.  "Asteroid to fly close by Earth safely on 26th January." 

This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2004 BL86, which will come no closer than about three times the distance from Earth to the Moon on 26th January 2015. Due to its orbit around the Sun, the asteroid is currently only visible by astronomers with large telescopes who are located in the Southern Hemisphere. But by 26th January, the space rock's changing position will make it visible to those in the Northern Hemisphere. Click the graphic for a 1280x720-pixel animation. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Feel safer now?
An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the Moon on 26th January. From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5 kilometres) in size. The flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027. At the time of its closest approach, the asteroid will be approximately 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometres) from Earth.

"Monday, January 26th will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to Earth for at least the next 200 years,” said Don Yeomans, who is retiring as manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, after 16 years in the position. “And while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it’s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more.”

----  Asteroid 2004 BL86 was initially discovered on 30th January 2004 by a telescope of the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands, New Mexico.  Read more.

Related article- ABC 7 News/Science/Associated Press, 1/25/15. "CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- An asteroid up to 1,800 feet across is headed Earth's way. But don't worry: It will miss us by 745,000 miles, about three times the distance between Earth and the moon. Still, that's close for such a large rock."

Related history 2013 - asteroid much closer, much smaller.  National Geographic/Andrew Fazekas, 2/7/13. "Talk about too close for comfort. In a rare cosmic encounter, an asteroid will buzz Earth next week, missing our planet by a mere 17,200 miles (27,700 kilometers). Designated 2012 DA14, the space rock is approximately 150 feet (45 meters) across, and astronomers are certain it will zip harmlessly past our planet on February 15—but not before making history. It will pass within the orbits of many communications satellites, making it the closest flyby on record. (Read about one of the largest asteroids to fly by Earth.)

ReferenceNational Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).   Note graphic: from NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, posted in the Astronomy Now magazine article above. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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