J025: Asteroid is largest since 2004 to pass close to Earth

I 26.04.2017

An asteroid up to a mile wide has passed by Earth, giving stargazers a rare treat.


The asteroid, known as J025, was the largest to come so close to our planet for the past 13 years.


It passed within 1.1 million miles - just five times as far away from Earth as the Moon is - a close pass in cosmic terms.


NASA had said there was no chance it will hit Earth - and sure enough, it is now hurtling away from the centre of our solar system.


The object, discovered in 2014, was not expected to be visible to the naked eye but it was be bright enough to be seen through a home telescope.


Scientists do not know exactly how big it is, but they have estimated it is between 600 metres and 1,400 metres wide.


Smaller asteroids routinely make closer passes to Earth.


"We know the time that the object is going to be closest within seconds, and the distance is known within hundreds of kilometres," said Davide Farnocchia, a mathematician at NASA's near-Earth object programme, said before the flyby.


He said having several years of data of the asteroids trajectory meant they were able to confidently predict how close to the Earth it would come.


Mr Farnocchia said he and his colleagues have already moved on to tracking even closer encounters between the Earth and other asteroids in the future, such as the asteroid 1999 AN10.


In 2027, the half-mile wide asteroid is predicted to pass closer to the Earth than the Moon, coming within 236,000 miles of Earth.


In 2004, 3.1 mile-wide asteroid Toutatis passed within a million miles of Earth.


Source: Sky News