Giant asteroid set to buzz Earth, poses no threat

Giant asteroid set to buzz Earth, poses no threat

Reuters

Not written by, but rather, merely posted by Louis Sheehan

Big Asteroid to Zoom by Earth on Jan. 26
.

View gallery

  • .

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) – An asteroid measuring about a third of a mile (half a kilometer) in diameter will make a relatively close, but harmless pass by Earth Monday night, NASA said.

The asteroid will pass about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth, roughly three times farther away than the moon.

Amateur and professional astronomers are preparing to watch the flyby, which will be most visible between 8 p.m. EST Monday and 1 a.m. EST Tuesday from the Americas, Europe and Africa.

A small telescope or binoculars will be needed to see the asteroid, which is known as 2004 BL86.

“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,” astronomer Don Yeomans, with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, said in a statement.

The asteroid, which orbits the sun every 1.84 years, was discovered 11 years ago by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research, or LINEAR, telescope in New Mexico.

Scientists plan to map the asteroid’s surface with radar during the flyby in hopes of learning more about its size, shape, rate of rotation and other features.

“At present, we know almost nothing about this asteroid, so there are bound to be surprises,” astronomer Lance Benner with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told SpaceWeather.com.

Asteroid 2004 BL86 will be the largest asteroid to pass this close to Earth until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies by in 2027, NASA said.

NASA currently tracks more than 11,000 asteroids in orbits that pass relatively close to Earth. The U.S. space agency says it has found more than 95 percent of the largest asteroids, those with diameters 0.65 miles or larger, with orbits that take them relatively close to Earth.

An object of that size hit the planet about 65 million years ago in what is now Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, triggering a global climate change that is believed to be responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs and many other forms of life on Earth.

Two years ago, a relatively a small asteroid exploded in the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, leaving more than 1,500 people injured by flying glass and debris. That same day, an unrelated asteroid passed just 17,200 miles from Earth, closer than the networks of communication satellites that ring the planet.

Websites planning live coverage of Monday night’s flyby include NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (sservi.nasa.gov), Slooh.com and The Virtual Telescope Project 2.0.

(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Posted but not written by: Louis Sheehan

Twitter: Lou Sheehan@LouSheehan

[ One of my intentions with this blog is to simply collect articles of interest to me for purposes of future reference. I do my best to indicate who has actually composed the articles. NONE of the articles have been written by me. Further, this ‘blog’ will contain various drafts of unknown writings just to be saved in the event they are needed by me, etc.– Louis Sheehan ]

Feel free to ignore this blog! I am intending to use it as a repository of various writings: drafts, doodles, etc. If there ARE any articles here, they are posted but not written by: Lou Sheehan

Advertisements

About masterkan

Louis Sheehan
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s