House-sized Asteroid to Give Earth a Very Close Shave Monday
Get ready for a very close encounter as a house-sized asteroid 2014 UF56 will pass between the Earth and the Moon on Monday. The 15 meter wide space rock will miss our planet at a distance of about 160,000 km (0.4 lunar distances) at 9:12 p.m. UTC. The asteroid was discovered Saturday and despite passing so close to Earth, few if any of us will see the flyby with our eyes in a telescope. At brightest, 2014 UF56 will only reach magnitude +16, as it zips from Scutum constellation through Capricornus.
The asteroid, back in 2012 visited Mars at a distance of about 8 mln km. It will again approach the Earth on Feb. 12, 2018. This will be a very distant fly-by, at about 64 lunar distances.
160,000 km is still a safe distance, but still a very spectacular circumstance, that's why the Virtual Telescope Project will offer a live, online event sharing real-time images of 2014 UF56 with live commentary by their scientific staff. The stream, starting at 7:00 p.m. UTC, will be available at: virtualtelescope.eu.
None of the known potentially hazardous asteroids is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
"With 90% of near-Earth asteroids larger than 0.6 miles (1 km) discovered, surveys are now focusing on finding 90% of objects larger than 460 feet (140-m)," amateur astronomer Bob King writes on his blog. "We have to take it a step at a time because the total number of near-Earth asteroids is in the millions. That’s why objects like 2014 UF56 pop up regularly in surveys each month."