Big and Bright Asteroid to Pass by Earth June 14

by Nancy Atkinson on June 14, 2012

Asteroid 2012 LZ1 as seen by the Haleakala-Faulkes Telescope North on June 13, 2012. Credit: Nick Howes, Ernesto Guido & Giovanni Sostero.

An unusually large and bright near-Earth asteroid was recently discovered and it will make its closest approach to Earth on June 14 at about 23:10 UTC. The object is so bright, the Slooh Observatory will attempt to have a live webcast showing the object sneaking past Earth at about 5.3 million km (3.35 million) miles away, or about 14 times the distance between Earth and the Moon. The asteroid, 2012 LZ1 was discovered by Rob McNaught and colleagues on 2012 June 10/11, and is about 502 meters (1,650 feet) wide.

The team of Nick Howes, Ernesto Guido and Giovanni Sostero from the Remanzacco Observatory took this image of 2012 LZ1 on June 13. They also have an animation of the object here.

There’s no danger this asteroid will impact Earth, but it has been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid. PHAs are asteroids larger than approximately 100 meters that can come closer to our planet than 0.05 AU (7.4 million km, 4.65 million miles). None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although, as the Remanzacco team pointed out, astronomers are finding new ones all the time.

The Slooh Observatory will use a telescope on the Canary Islands and webcast the footage beginning at 00:00 UTC on Friday (8:00 p.m. EDT Thursday), and the link to the webcast is http://events.slooh.com/. Discoverer Rob McNaught will be joining the webcast for commentary. McNaught made the discovery using the Uppsala Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.

2012 LZ1 is just a bit smaller than asteroid 2005 YU55 (502 meters), which made a very close flyby of Earth in November, 2011 at just 32,5087km (202,000 miles) away.

Want to try and see this asteroid for yourself? Check out the Minor Planet Center’s ephemeris of this object, and for reference, it will be passing near NGC 6822 (Barnard’s Galaxy) in the constellation Sagittarius at its time of closest approach.

Sources: Remanzacco Observatory, iTelescope.net

About 

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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