A large asteroid will whiz past Earth on April 19, according to NASA, coming within 1.1 million miles. Scientists have been tracking the asteroid’s progress ever since it was discovered in 2014, so its imminent arrival isn’t exactly unexpected.
Whats notable about asteroid 2014 JO25 is its size; at about 2,000 feet in length, the asteroid is the largest to fly past Earth since Toutatis in 2004. Scientists predict another asteroid of similar size will come close in 2027.
For scientists who regularly watch the cosmos, the asteroid’s close approach is just another day. “Small asteroids pass within this distance of Earth several times each week,” NASA said. I don’t know whether this being treated as a normal occurrence is awesome or terrifying.
“The asteroid will approach Earth from the direction of the sun and will become visible in the night sky after April 19,” NASA said. “It is predicted to brighten to about magnitude 11, when it could be visible in small optical telescopes for one or two nights before it fades as the distance from Earth rapidly increases.”
It’s an opportunity to study the asteroid
Fun fact: Scientists say the asteroid’s upcoming flyby will be the closest it has been to Earth in 400 years, and it probably won’t get this close again for another 500. So, consider yourself lucky. Once it passes by, scientists hope to study it using telescopes around the world.
Although scientists know the asteroid’s trajectory, very little is know about its physical properties, other than the surface is twice as reflective than that of the moon. Scientists should know more once the asteroid flies by next week.