8-Meter-Wide Asteroid Will Pass Close to Earth January 27

by Nancy Atkinson on January 26, 2012

Orbital parameters of Asteroid 2012 BX34 from JPL's Small Body Database.

A small asteroid will pass extremely close to Earth tomorrow (January 27, 2012). Named 2012 BX34, this 11 meter- (36 feet-) wide 8 meter- (26-foot-) space rock (astronomers have updated their estimates of the size) will skim Earth less than 60,000 km (37,000 miles, .0004 AU)>, at around 15:30 UTC, (10:30 am EST) according to the Minor Planet Center. The latest estimates have this small bus-sized asteroid it traveling at about about 8,900 meters/second (about 20,000 miles per hour). 2012 BX34 has been observed by the Catalina Sky Survey and the Mt. Lemmon Survey in Arizona, and the Magdalena Ridge Observatory in New Mexico, so its orbit is well defined and there is no risk of impact to Earth.

Via the @AsteroidWatch Twitter feed, scientists from JPL said “It wouldn’t get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try.”

Amateur astronomers in the right place and time could view this object, as it should be about magnitude 14 at the time of closest approach. Click here to see a current orbit diagram, and here to view the ephemeris data. Nick Howes, with the Faulkes Telescope Project said his team is hoping to observe and image the asteroid, — although they aren’t sure if they will be able — but we hope to share their images later.

Update: see images from astronomers on our latest article regarding 2012 BX34

Hat Tip: Nick Howes

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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