Thursday, September 28, 2017

Huge Asteroid to Fly By Earth on Friday

A huge asteroid, estimated to be several hundred meters in size, is slated to pass by Earth on Friday, September 29. The object, designated 1989 VB, will miss our planet at 20:01 UTC a safe distance of about 7.9 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to three million kilometers.

1989 VB was detected on November 1, 1989 by the Q. A. Parker at the Siding Spring Observatory (SSO). Located on the edge of the Warrumbungle National Park near Coonabarabran, NSW, Australia, SSO is the country’s premier optical and infrared astronomical observatory.

Observations of 1989 VB indicate that it is an Amor-type asteroid with an estimated size between 200 and 620 meters. The space rock has an absolute magnitude of 19.9, semimajor axis of 1.86 AU and orbits the sun every two and a half years.

On September 29, the asteroid 1989 VB will pass by the Earth with a relative velocity of approximately 6.29 km/s. The upcoming close approach will offer a great opportunity to observe this object in detail. Astronomers plan to monitor this asteroid with the Goldstone Solar System Radar in California, hoping for signal-to-noise ratios strong enough for 4-meter resolution imaging that could place thousands of pixels on the object.

Another fly by of 1989 VB is expected to take place on November 26, 2022. However, on that day the asteroid will miss the Earth at a much larger distance of at least 169 LD.

1989 VB is classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA). PHAs are space rocks larger than approximately 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD. On September 28, 2017, there were 1,803 PHAs discovered to date, however, none of these objects is on a collision course with our planet.

1 comment:

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