Sunday, January 7, 2018

House-Sized Asteroid to Fly By Earth on January 23

A newly discovered house-sized asteroid, designated 2018 AJ, is slated to pass by Earth on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. The space rock will fly by our planet at 11:28 UTC at a safe distance of about 4.6 lunar distances (LD), or 1.77 million kilometers.

2018 AJ is an Apollo-type near-Earth object (NEO) that was first spotted on January 5 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 new NEOs. So far, it has detected more than 50,000 minor planets.

According to observations, 2018 AJ will swoosh by our planet with a relative velocity of 5.5 km/s. The space rock, which is about 40 meters in diameter, has an absolute magnitude of 24.7, semimajor axis of approximately 1.47 AU and orbits the sun every 623 days.

No more future close approaches of this asteroid are currently expected by astronomers.

On January 7, there were 1,872 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 17,500 NEOs. Since the beginning of this year, 9 such objects were detected.


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