Sunday, October 1, 2017

Small Asteroid to Fly Very Close to Earth on Monday

A newly detected asteroid, designated 2017 SX17, is about to give Earth a close shave on Monday, October 2. The object will pass by our planet at a close distance of about 0.23 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to 88,300 kilometers.

2017 SX17 was discovered on September 29, 2017 by the Mount Lemmon Survey (MLS), which utilizes a 1.52 m cassegrain reflector telescope at Mount Lemmon Observatory in Arizona. MLS is one of the most prolific surveys when it comes to discovering near-Earth objects (NEOs). So far, it has detected more than 50,000 minor planets.

According to astronomers, 2017 SX17 is an Apollo-type asteroid with an estimated diameter between 3 and 12 meters. This near-Earth object (NEO) has an absolute magnitude of 28.5, a semimajor axis of approximately 1.18 and orbits the sun every 1.28 years. On Monday, it will fly by our planet at 10:18 UTC with a relative velocity of 7.31 km/s.

Besides the close approach on October 2, 2017 SX17 will miss the moon one day earlier at a distance of about 0.7 LD. The asteroid’s next fly-by of Earth is expected on April 18, 2018, when it will pass at a much larger distance of approximately 136 LD.

Currently, there are 1,803 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) detected, however none of them is on a collision course with our planet. PHAs are asteroids larger than 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD.

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