Thursday, December 7, 2017

House-Sized Asteroid to Swoosh by Earth on Saturday

A newly discovered house-sized asteroid is slated to fly by Earth on Saturday, December 9 at 21:45 UTC. The near-Earth object (NEO), designated 2017 WV12, will pass by our planet at a safe distance of about 3.44 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to 1.32 million kilometers.

2017 WV12 is an Apollo-type asteroid that was first observed on November 19 by the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) telescope at the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) is an astronomical survey consisting of astronomical cameras, telescopes and a computing facility, surveying the sky for moving objects on a continual basis.

According to astronomers, 2017 WV12 has an estimated diameter between 16 and 49 meters, and an absolute magnitude of 25.4. The object has a semimajor axis of 1.53 AU and an orbital period of 1.9 years. On Saturday, it will whiz by Earth with a relative velocity of 10.6 km/s.

Besides close approach on Saturday, 2017 WV12 is also expected to fly by the Moon on the same day at a distance of approximately 3.63 LD, or 1.39 million kilometers.

On December 7, there were 1,869 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 17,300 NEOs. Only this year 1,847 such objects were detected.


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