Asteroid from start of solar system to pass near Earth

WASHINGTON — Planet Earth has a close call coming up next week. An asteroid one-third of a mile across will pass about 745,000 miles from Earth on the night of Jan. 26, and WTOP Space Contributor Greg Redfern, says you can spot it if you know where to look.

“This is a definite miss,” Redfern says, but a relatively close one as these things go. “It is the largest space rock that we know of that’s going to fly by Earth until the year 2027.”

The asteroid is code-named 2004 BL86, and Redfern says, “We know that it was part of the beginning of the solar system.”

Dr. Don Yeomans, retiring head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program at the jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California, says “while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it’s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more.”

You won’t be able to see 2004 BL86 with your naked eye, but if you’re an amateur astronomer who knows what to look for, Redfern says, you can spot it.

The website EarthSky has advice on how to spot it.

By the way, that 2027 rock? The Guardian says the latest estimates project it’ll come within 19,000 miles. Hold on tight.

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPtech on Twitter and and WTOP on Facebook.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2015 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up