Saturday, September 8, 2018

House-Sized Asteroid Discovered This Week to Make Close Approach to Earth on Sunday

Credit: NASA

A newly detected house-sized asteroid named 2018 RC is expected to fly by the Earth on Sunday, September 9, at around 12:08 UTC. The space rock will pass by our planet with a velocity of 5.3 km/s at a relatively close distance of about 0.56 lunar distances (LD), or 215,000 kilometers.

2018 RC is an Aten-type asteroid first spotted on September 3 by the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System (ATLAS) at the Mauna Loa Observatory (MLO), Hawaii. ATLAS is an astronomical survey system for detection of dangerous asteroids a few weeks to days before their close approaches to Earth. 

According to observations, 2018 RC has an absolute magnitude of 24.7 and an estimated diameter between 22 and 68 meters. The object orbits the Sun every 290 days at a distance of approximately 0.86 AU.

One day after the close approach to Earth, 2018 RC is expected to pass by the Moon at a distance of around 0.9 LD (345,600 kilometers). About two and a half months later, on November 28, the asteroid is predicted to fly by Venus at approximately 6.23 LD (2.4 million kilometers).

On September 8, there were 1,923 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. 

To date, astronomers have discovered more than 18,600 near-Earth objects (NEOs). Since the beginning of this year, 1,156 such objects have been detected.

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