A large asteroid discovered three years ago is set to whizz past the earth on the 19th April at a distance of about 1.1 million miles. This is about four and a half times the distance of the moon from the earth. This seems like a long distance but this is a very close approach for an asteroid of this size.
Asteroid 2014 JO25 was discovered back in 2014 by astronomers who estimate it to be approximately 650 meters in size (just over 7 football pitches). It is set to approach from the direction of the sun and will be visible after the 19th April. Due to its high reflective properties – it is twice as reflective as the moon – it will be visible even on small optical telescopes for up to two nights afterwards.
Smaller asteroids pass the earth at this distance all the time, but this will be the first time an asteroid of this size has passed this close, since 2004. The next known asteroid of a similar size has already been discovered and is set to pass earth by in 2027 – so another ten years away!
The approach on 19th April will be a good opportunity for researchers to study the asteroid and its properties as very little is known about it, bar its trajectory. Radar observations are being set up in several locations including the US and Puerto Rico. These could give details about the asteroid’s surface as small as a few meters! Very precise!
So remember to look up to the sky on 19th April and beyond with several comets set to pass us by in the days following too!
For more information you can visit the NASA website here.
For up to date information on asteroids, check out Asteroid Watch on Twitter!