Bus-Size Asteroid To Give Earth Close Shave Friday
I bet Bruce Willis knew about this already….
A small asteroid will make an extremely close pass by Earth Friday (Jan. 27), coming much nearer than the moon, but the space rock poses no danger of impacting our planet, NASA scientists say.
The newfound asteroid 2012 BX34, which is about the size of a city bus, will pass within 36,750 miles (59,044 kilometers) of Earth at about 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT) Friday, astronomers with NASA’s Asteroid Watch program announced via Twitter.
The space rock is about 36 feet (11 meters) wide, making it much too small to pose a threat to Earth.
“It wouldn’t get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try,” Asteroid Watch scientists tweeted today (Jan. 26). Asteroid Watch is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Asteroid 2012 BX34 will zip by at a distance about 0.17 times that separating Earth and the moon. The moon orbits Earth at an average distance of about 240,000 miles (386,000 km). [Video and image of asteroid 2012 BX34's orbit]
While the near-Earth asteroid won’t hit Earth, it may offer seasoned amateur astronomers a great show — if they are in the right viewing location and have good equipment.
“Advanced amateur astronomers might be able to observe the flyby as the asteroid brightens to 14th magnitude just before closest approach on Friday,” the website Spaceweather.com reported today.
In astronomers’ classification system, higher magnitudes correspond to dimmer objects. The full moon, for example, has a magnitude around -12.75. A magnitude of +14 would put 2012 BX34 roughly on par with the maximum brightness of the distant dwarf planet Pluto.