Big asteroid to swoop by Earth on January 26

Big asteroid to swoop by Earth on January 26
Highlights

Big Asteroid to Swoop by Earth on January 26. An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26.

Washington: An asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will safely pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon on January 26.

From its reflected brightness, astronomers estimate that the asteroid is about a third of a mile (0.5 kilometers) in size and the flyby of 2004 BL86 will be the closest by any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027.

Researcher Don Yeomans said that January 26 will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to Earth for at least the next 200 years and 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.

Radar astronomer Lance Benner of JPL said that when they get their radar data back the day after the flyby, they will have the first detailed images, adding that at present, they know almost nothing about the asteroid, so there are bound to be surprises.

Asteroid 2004 BL86 was initially discovered on Jan. 30, 2004 by a telescope of the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands, New Mexico.

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

Yeomans added that asteroids are something special and 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.

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