Look up! Close encounter with a large asteroid Jan 26

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 Jan. 26, 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 Jan. 26, the space rock's changing position will make it visible to those in the northern hemisphere. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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 Jan. 26, 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 Jan. 26, the space rock’s changing position will make it visible to those in the northern hemisphere. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Ready for a little excitement in the night sky?

According to the experts, a large asteroid, known as 2004 BL86, will swing past the earth on Monday, Jan 26th. How large? It’s estimated to be 500 meters in diameter, with nothing else of that size coming around again until 2027.

We are assured that no collision will result. Amazingly, it may be possible to see the moving object from your location. (Emphasis on “may”. It is a moving object.)

Here’s more on why asteroids are interesting, from NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. According to manager Don Yeomans:

The asteroid is expected to be observable to amateur astronomers with small telescopes and strong binoculars.

“I may grab my favorite binoculars and give it a shot myself,” said Yeomans. “Asteroids are something special. Not only did asteroids provide Earth with the building blocks of life and much of its water, but in the future, they will become valuable resources for mineral ores and other vital natural resources. They will also become the fueling stops for humanity as we continue to explore our solar system. There is something about asteroids that makes me want to look up.”

You can read more at Earth and Sky, which mentions that “the Virtual Telescope Project will feature real-time images and commentary“.

According to coverage by the Business Insider, another way to watch comes from:

Slooh, the live online observatory, will broadcast the event starting at 11:00 am EST on Monday, Jan. 26.

The broadcast, provided below, will include commentary from experts including Paul Chodas, manager of JPL’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, and Lance Benner, NASA Research Scientist.

Dress warmly, if you head outside yourself, and good luck!

Tags: , , ,

1 Comment on “Look up! Close encounter with a large asteroid Jan 26”

  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Ho-hum. Now if someone shot a rocket powered Lincoln at it I might get out my telescope.

Comments are closed.