A massive asteroid, around 2000 feet in size, would be making a relatively close flyby to Earth on April 19. The huge space rock would be passing Earth close enough that scientists and amateur astronomers would have no problem detecting the asteroid when it passes through the sky. Despite its size, however, the asteroid would be passing quite safely around 1,090,733 miles away from Earth, which roughly translates to 4.6 times the distance between the planet and the Moon.
The massive space rock, designated as Asteroid 2014 JO25, was discovered three years ago by astronomers working with the Catalina Sky Survey, a project of NASA’s NEO Observations Program located near Tucson and operated in collaboration with the University of Arizona. Fairly large at 2,000 feet in size, the asteroid is also notable for its reflective attributes, which scientists state is around twice as bright as the Moon, according to a Phys.Org report.
One thing that has managed to get numerous scientists interested in the space rock is the fact that while it would not be colliding with the planet, it would still be passing relatively close to Earth. Overall, experts state that considering the asteroid’s orbit, the April 19 flyby would be the closest Asteroid 2014 JO25 has come to the planet for the last 400 years.
A particularly interesting tidbit of information about the asteroid is that it was initially tagged as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid by the Minor Planet Center when it was discovered back in 2014. Apart from its close orbit to the planet, Asteroid 2014 JO25 is also notable for its sheer size, which scientists estimate is at least 60 times the diameter of the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, back in 2013, which caused damages around the city.
Nevertheless, the upcoming flyby has been confirmed by astronomers to be completely safe. Considering that the asteroid would be passing more than a million miles from the planet, Asteroid 2014 JO25 poses no danger at all to Earth. With this, astronomers have encouraged space enthusiasts to witness the space rock’s flyby on April 19.
According to an EarthSky report, amateur astronomers would be wise to use telescopes that have at least an 8-inch scope to properly view Asteroid 2014 JO25’s flyby. While the space rock is highly reflective, it would be passing far enough for the asteroid to be entirely invisible to the naked eye. With a telescope, however, the rock would be seen with a brightness of around 10 or 11 magnitude.
Currently, Asteroid 2014 JO25 is coming from the direction of the Sun. On the first hours of April 19, however, astronomers would be able to view the asteroid crossing Draco. By nighttime, the space rock would appear to be moving across the heavens for about 18 minutes, covering a distance around the same size as the Moon’s diameter.
Astronomers have stated that that Asteroid 2014 JO25 would be more noticeable in the sky during the night of April 19. This is due to the fact that the object would be at a higher elevation in the heavens.
Fortunately, scientists have also determined that Asteroid 2014 JO25 would be visible to observers located from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Those from the Northern Hemisphere would be able to see the asteroid during the early hours of April 19. Those in the Southern Hemisphere, on the other hand, would be able to spot the object during the night of April 19. Amateur astronomers in Africa and Australia would be able to spot Asteroid 2014 JO25 around April 19-20.
It is not just the asteroid that would be passing the Earth on April 19, however, as Comet PanSTARRS (C/2015 ER61) would also be making a flyby on the same date. Unlike the asteroid, however, the approaching comet would be passing by the planet at a remarkably safe distance of 109 million miles.
[Featured Image by Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock]