An Asteroid Will Be Making A Close Call This Month, Visible With Backyard Telescopes

An asteroid is heading this way, and it’s a big one.

2004 BL86 is remarkable for two reasons. First, it’s huge (as asteroids go); and second, it’s coming rather close (again, as asteroids go).

Scientists measure asteroid approaches in Lunar Distance (LD) – one LD is the distance between the Earth and the Moon, which is about 348,000 kilometers (about 239,000 miles). Scientists consider an asteroid “close” if it comes within about 19.5 LD;Asteroid 2004 BL86 will come in at about three LD.

Size: the asteroid in question is between 400-900 meters (1300-2900 feet) across. That’s big; by comparison, the meteorite that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, damaging some 1,500 buildings and injuring some 500 people, is was estimated to be one twentieth that size, according to Russia Today.

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When ? Beginning in the evening of January 26 and into the morning of January 27, the asteroid will be at peak brightness, at magnitude 8.8.(At about 4:00 A.M. Greenwich Mean Time (11:00 P.M. Eastern Time), the asteroid will be at its most visible)

Asteroid 2004 BL86 poses no threat to the Earth.


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