Mountain-Sized Asteroid Will Zoom Past Earth On April 19: How To Watch This Potentially Dangerous Fly-By
There is relief and subtle anxiety from the upcoming close encounter of a mighty asteroid that will be buzzing the Earth on April 19 in a "safe" flyby.
The giant asteroid has the size of the Rock of Gibraltar. Though described a safer passage, there is unease of it hurtling uncomfortably close to the planet.
Nicknamed "The Rock" in a veiled reference to American entertainer Dwayne Johnson, the asteroid will be moving with a speed of 33 meters per second. It will come within 1.8 million kilometers proximity of the Earth with a kilometer of length.
The asteroid with a width of 2,000 feet has a highly reflective surface than the moon, according to NASA. The diameter is around 600 meters. The asteroid 2014 JO25 is easy to spot with a small telescope or binocular given its highly reflective body.
Asteroid Classified As Hazardous
The 2014 JO25 is part of the small proportion of 16,000 identified Near Earth Asteroids (NRAs) potentially rated as hazardous.
It may be known that only 5 percent of NRAs have diameter beyond 1 km, and half of them are with a diameter less than 140 meters.
It may be recalled that the extinction of dinosaurs happened from an asteroid collision, some 66 million years ago.
NASA described the asteroid flyby a big opportunity and said astronomers can hold more research on the properties of the asteroid.
The asteroid 2014 JO25 was discovered by NASA scientists in Arizona under Catalina Sky Survey and backed by NASA's Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observation Program in 2014. For astronomers, it is watchable with a 3-inch telescope.
How To Watch Asteroid Flyby
Those keen on watching the asteroid's close flyby can take the help of slooh.com and watch the event through a telescope. Simply look for the "Next LIVE Event" and click on Tracking "The Rock" on Close Approach.
A membership is required but there is a 30-day free trial and a $10 discount if one opts for an annual membership.
The portal will be running a live web telecast on April 19 from 23:00 UTC or 7 PM EST.
Many small asteroids pass several times a week closer to Earth, according to NASA. However, the April 19 encounter becomes different because the asteroid involved is quite massive.
"This upcoming close approach is the closest by any known asteroid of this size, or larger, since asteroid Toutatis, a 3.1-mile (five-kilometer) asteroid, which approached within about four lunar distances in September 2004," NASA officials added.
NASA said it will be monitoring the flyby to "reveal surface details as small as a few meters" and will use radar telescopes in California and Puerto Rico.
NASA has confirmed that there is no possibility of collision with Earth despite the close approach of the mega asteroid.
Though the risk is ruled out, the closer approach of such a massive asteroid is a reminder of the threats posed by the space debris.