On Sunday, this year’s largest asteroid passed Earth at 77,000 mph.
However, the celestial object, which had been designated a “potentially dangerous asteroid” by NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, did not get too close.
“We know the 2001 FO32 orbital path around the Sun very precisely, as it was discovered 20 years ago and has been tracked ever since,” said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), who It is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “There is no chance that the asteroid will get closer to Earth than 1.25 million miles.”
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The asteroid, which completes one orbit every 810 days, reached its closest point on Sunday, but still the rock was more than five times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
The close call will allow scientific study of the asteroid.
Said Lance Benner, lead scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: “Currently little is known about this object, so the very close encounter provides a rare opportunity to learn a lot about this asteroid.”
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Lucky astronomers can witness the visit.
“The asteroid will be brighter as it moves through the southern skies,” Chodas said. Amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere and in low northern latitudes should be able to see this asteroid using moderately sized telescopes with apertures of at least 8 inches in the nights before the closest approach, but they will likely need star charts to find it. “