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04/19/2017

Asteroid Passing Close to Earth Today!

A large asteroid (one the size of six football fields) is flying past the Earth today . . . at a safe distance of 1.1 million miles. That is about 4.6 times the distance from the Earth to the moon. Although it will not come close to colliding, it is considered a close encounter to Earth for an asteroid this size.

Video Credit: Nasa Jet Propulsion Lab

Radar images of asteroid 2014 JO25 were obtained in the early morning hours on Tuesday, with NASA's 70-meter (230-foot) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. The images reveal a peanut-shaped asteroid that rotates about once every five hours. The images have resolutions as fine as 25 feet (7.5 meters) per pixel.

Asteroid 2014 JO25 was discovered in May 2014 by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona -- a project of NASA's Near-Earth Objects Observations Program in collaboration with the University of Arizona.

Image 1

This composite of 30 images of asteroid 2014 JO25 was generated with radar data collected using NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar in California's Mojave Desert

How and When to See it?

The asteroid will approach Earth from the direction of the sun and will become visible in the night sky after April 19. It is predicted to brighten to about magnitude 11, when it could be visible in small optical telescopes for one or two nights before it fades as the distance from Earth rapidly increases. This encounter is the closest an asteroid has come to Earth for at least the last 400 years and will be its closest approach for at least the next 500 years.

Is it a Rarity?

Small asteroids pass within this distance of Earth several times each week, but this upcoming close approach is the closest by any known asteroid of this size, or larger, since asteroid Toutatis, a 3.1-mile asteroid, which approached within about four lunar distances in September 2004. The next known encounter of an asteroid of comparable size will occur in 2027 when the half-mile-wide asteroid 1999 AN10 will fly by at one lunar distance, about 236,000 miles.

To learn more about this close pass of asteroid 2014 JO25 click here.

And for more information about asteroids and near Earth object can be found here.

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