Sunday, January 22, 2017

Asteroid 2017 BX to Whiz Near Earth on January 25

Orbit diagram of asteroid 2017 BX. Credit: NASA

A newly discovered asteroid designated 2017 BX is about to give Earth a close shave on Wednesday, January 25. The space rock will pass by our planet at a distance of about 0.68 lunar distances (LD), or 162,000 miles (261,000 kilometers).

Asteroid 2017 BX was detected on January 20 by the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) telescope. PS1 is located in Hawaii and belongs to the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS).

According to the astronomers who spotted 2017 BX, this asteroid is between 13 and 46 feet (4 and 14 meters) in diameter and will miss the Earth with a velocity of approximately 16,600 mph. The object will also whiz by the moon on January 25 at an estimated distance of about 0.82 LD, or 195,000 miles (315,000 kilometers).

The newly discovered asteroid will fly by Earth two times more in this century. Next close approach will take place on April 26, 2024, when it will miss our planet at a distance of about 58 LD - 13.8 million miles, or 22 million kilometers. Another flyby will occur on May 5, 2054, when it pass even further away from the Earth - at approximately 101 LD, or 24 million miles (39 million kilometers).

Besides 2017 BX, one more asteroid will also pass by Earth on January 25. The object, known as 1991 VK, has a diameter of about 1.18 miles (1.9 kilometers) and will fly by our home planet at a distance of 25.2 LD - 6 million miles (9.7 million kilometers).

While asteroid 2017 BX poses no threat to Earth, there are currently 1,761 potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) detected. PHAs are space rocks larger than approximately 328 feet (100 meters) that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU (19.5 LD). None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.

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