In the next few hours, an asteroid will come very close to Earth, passing thousands of kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
The relative near miss will be broadcast live using a robotic telescope – here’s what you need to know about the asteroid and how to observe it.
What do we know about this asteroid?
The asteroid was first discovered on January 21 and has been named Asteroid 2023 BU.
It will pass Earth shortly after midnight on Friday, January 27.
When it passes closest, it will be 3,500 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. That’s less than 3% of the average distance between the Earth and the Moon.
That may sound far, but the asteroid will be the fourth closest to Earth on record.
By comparison, most satellites orbit at altitudes above 35,000 km.
Should I be worried about an asteroid hitting Earth?
In short, no. The asteroid measures between 3.8 and 8.4 meters – small enough to be incinerated upon entering Earth’s atmosphere.
Apparently it was about the size of a giant elephant.
according to nasathe asteroids smaller than 25m are likely to burn out, resulting in little or no damage to the ground.
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How can I see an asteroid passing near Earth?
The Virtual Telescope Project will be live-streaming Close Encounters on Thursday, January 26 at 7:15pm.
Astronomer Gianluca Masi will host a free live stream on the project website and youtube channel.
Operated by the Bellatrix Observatory in Italy, the Virtual Telescope Project consists of several robotic telescopes accessible online.
What is an asteroid?
According to NASA, asteroids are “relatively small, inactive bodies orbiting the Sun.” It is usually made of rock, dirt and metal materials.
Most orbits are within the main asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, but some follow paths that loop into the inner Solar System (including near-Earth asteroids).
A sort of NASA website Shown are the next five asteroids expected to approach Earth, showing how far they typically are from Earth. Asteroids range in size from the footprint of a house to a bus or plane.