Published: Mon, April 17, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Eyes to the sky: Giant asteroid set to fly by Earth soon

Eyes to the sky: Giant asteroid set to fly by Earth soon

A whopper of an asteroid will make a close approach to Earth on April 19.

Next Wednesday, Earth is going to get a close shave from a large chunk of space rock - as the biggest asteroid in 13 years sails past. This is very close for an asteroid of its size, according to NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office.

2014 JO25 was first observed three years ago when astronomers monitoring the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona with their telescopes spotted it. This approach will be the asteroid's closest orbit to Earth in 400 years and it won't happen again until at least another 500 years.

Even though there is no chance the asteroid will collide with the planet - it will be nearly 5 times as far away as the moon - it is still one of the small proportion of about 16,000 identified Near Earth Asteroids (NRAs) classified as potentially hazardous, coming within 7.48 million km of the planet.

Starting at 7 p.m. EDT on April 19, online astronomy service Slooh will host a live show after 2014 JO25 zooms by the Earth, Gizmodo reported. However in case, an asteroid's trajectory comes to close to Earth, we can be sure that superpowers such as the USA have a backup plan for this. Skywatchers will be able to see it with a small telescope. You can also watch it at The Virtual Telescope.

The position of 2014 JO25 in the night sky, at around 10:30 p.m., on April 19, 2017. "Radar observations are planned at NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the resulting radar images could reveal surface details as small as a few meters". JPL Radar Scientist Marina Brozovic showed us how it's done back in October 2015.

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