Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Newly Discovered House-Sized Asteroid to Pass By Earth on Wednesday

A newly detected house-sized asteroid, designated 2018 AG4, is slated to give Earth a close shave on Wednesday, January 17. The object will fly by our planet at 10:41 UTC at a distance of approximately 1.4 lunar distances (LD), or 537,000 kilometers.

2018 AG4 is an Apollo-type near-Earth object (NEO) discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) on January 14. CSS is a project to discover comets and asteroids, and to search for NEOs, based at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab in Tucson, Arizona.

2018 AG4 has an estimated diameter between 12 and 38 meters. It orbits the sun every 514 days at a distance of approximately 1.25 AU. On Wednesday this object, with an absolute magnitude of 26, will fly past our planet with a relative velocity of about 9.2 km/s.

Besides the close approach of 2018 AG4 to Earth on Wednesday, this asteroid will also miss the Moon at 19:55 UTC on the same day at a distance of about 2 LD (768,000 kilometers). 2018 AG4’s next fly-by of Earth is expected on July 4, 2018, when it will pass at a distance of approximately 150 LD (57.6 million kilometers).

On January 16, there were 1,872 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) detected and 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 nearly 17,600 NEOs. Only this month 37 such objects were detected.

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