Sunday, December 9, 2018

Asteroid 2018 VO9 to Make Close Approach to Earth on Saturday

Credit: NASA

A newly discovered truck-sized asteroid, known as 2018 VO9, is expected to make a close approach to Earth on Saturday, December 15. The space rock will pass by our planet at around 11:36 UTC at a safe distance of about 2.6 lunar distances (LD), or 998,400 kilometers.

2018 VO9 is an Apollo-type asteroid first spotted November 9 by the Pan-STARRS 2 (PS2) 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, 2018 VO9 has an absolute magnitude of 26.9. The near-Earth object (NEO) has an estimated diameter between 7 and 25 meters, a semimajor axis of 1.21 AU and orbits the sun every 485 days. On Saturday, it will swoosh by the Earth with a relative velocity of 2.9 km/s.

Two days before the upcoming fly-by of Earth, 2018 VO9 will also miss the Moon at a distance of 2.06 LD (791,000 kilometers). Next close approach of this asteroid to our planet is expected on November 4, 2022, when it will pass at approximately 29.8 LD (11.4 million kilometers).

On December 9, there were nearly 2,000 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 (7.5 million kilometers).

To date, astronomers have discovered more than 19,200 NEOs. Only since the beginning of the year, 1,855 such objects have been detected.

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