The first day of November turned out to be quite a busy day for asteroid close encounters. Five space rocks cruised by Earth today, in a multi-asteroid flyby that brought space rocks of various sizes in close proximity to our planet. The rocks were traveling at different speeds and didn’t swing by Earth all at once — rather than buzzing Earth as a swarm, the objects performed individual flybys, passing through our cosmic neighborhood at different hours throughout the day. Yet another asteroid is due to shoot past our planet later tonight, bringing the total tally of the day to six flybys.
According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), all six asteroids are classified as near-Earth objects. Five of these rocks are labeled as “Earth-crossing” Apollo asteroids, which means they follow an orbital path that allows them not only to approach our planet but also to cross its orbit. The remaining asteroid is an Amor-type space rock, a designation that indicates the rock’s orbit can bring it close to Earth without actually intersecting the planet’s orbit.
The six objects were all recently discovered, being picked up by NASA asteroid trackers within the past couple of weeks. The largest rock of the group is thought to be up to 393 feet across, potentially dwarfing the Statue of Liberty in New York. The asteroids passed at different distances from our planet, ranging from a few million miles to under a couple of hundred miles — or less than the distance between Earth and the moon.
The first space rock to approach Earth today was a 108-foot asteroid known as 2019 UG12. The rock circles the sun once every 1,084 days — or nearly three years. Today’s close approach was the first and only flyby of Earth for the wayfaring asteroid, per NASA records. The asteroid buzzed Earth at 2:48 p.m. EDT, hurtling past our planet at 26,600 mph. At its closest point to Earth, the object passed within 948,600 miles of our planet — or nearly four times the distance to the moon. Exactly an hour later, the asteroid swung by the moon, darting past its crater pockmarked surface at a distance of 809,100 miles.
The second celestial visitor of the day was asteroid 2019 UP7. The rock measures 134.5 feet in diameter and orbits the sun once every 924 days, or about two-and-a-half years. Just like in the case of its predecessor, today marked the first-ever flyby of Earth for asteroid 2019 UP7. Traveling at a cruising speed of 21,100 mph, the rock approached Earth at 3:09 p.m. EDT, when it flew within 3.6 million miles from the planet’s surface. To put that into perspective, that’s 15.4 times the distance to the moon. Of all the asteroids in the group, 2019 UP7 passed the farthest away from Earth. The rock is not expected to return for the foreseeable future.
Asteroid 2019 UP7 was followed by a 114-foot space rock known as 2019 UM4. The object swooped by Earth five minutes after its predecessor, approaching our planet at a speed of 20,500 mph. The asteroid managed to creep in a little closer to Earth than 2019 UP7, quietly slipping past our planet at a distance of 2.6 million miles — or a little over 11 times the lunar distance. Asteroid 2019 UM4 completes a full orbit around the sun in 1,500 days — or about four years. In 2017, the asteroid swung by the gas giant Jupiter as it trekked the outer solar system. Today’s close encounter with Earth marked its first trip through the inner solar system.
About half an hour later, Earth was visited by a 393-foot asteroid dubbed 2019 UD13 — the largest space rock in the bunch and the only Amor asteroid of the group. The rock hurtled past our planet at a phenomenal speed of 51,800 mph, coming within 3.6 miles of Earth, as previously covered by The Inquisitr.
An hour after asteroid 2019 UD13 zipped past our planet, a tiny space rock skimmed Earth at 22,600 mph in what was the closest approach of the day. This fifth celestial visitor was a 91-foot asteroid known as 2019 UG11 and scraped past Earth from just 130,200 miles away — or half the distance to the moon.
The sixth and final celestial visitor of the day has yet to make its close approach to Earth. Known as asteroid 2019 UR12, the rock will pop by for its close encounter with our planet at 9:39 p.m. EDT. As it barrels through space at 31,000 mph, the asteroid will pass within 3.1 million miles of Earth. This won’t be either the first nor the last encounter with the wayfaring space rock. According to NASA records, the asteroid has been coming around our corner of the solar system for nearly a century and will continue to do so for at least another three decades. Asteroid 2019 UR12 zips around the sun once every 556 days, or 1.5 years, and will double back for its next visit in 2022.