Friday, January 26, 2018

House-Sized Space Rock to Miss Earth on Saturday

A newly discovered house-sized asteroid, known as 2018 BU1, is expected to miss our planet at 5:00 UTC on Saturday, January 27. The space rock will fly by Earth with a relative velocity of 11.3 km/s at a safe distance of about 3.06 lunar distances (LD), or 1.18 million kilometers.

2018 BU1 was first observed on January 18 by the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) on November 16. CSS is a project to discover comets and asteroids, and to search for near-Earth objects (NEOs), based at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson, Arizona.

According to astronomers, 2018 BU1 is an Apollo-type asteroid with an absolute magnitude of 24.6 and an estimated diameter between 23 and 71 meters. It has a semimajor axis of approximately 1.59 AU and it takes it two years to fully orbit the Sun.

2018 BU1 will also fly by the Moon on Friday, January 26 at 23:38 UTC at a distance of about 2.66 LD (1.02 million kilometers). Next close approach of this asteroid to Earth is expected on February 3, 2020, when it will pass at 20.8 LD (8 million kilometers) from our planet.

On January 26, there were 1,882 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 almost 17,700 NEOs. Since the beginning of this year, 127 such objects were detected.

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