Huge asteroid will pass Earth safely January 18


A large stony asteroid will safely pass Earth on January 18, 2022. Its estimated size is around 3,280 feet (about 1 km or .6 of a mile), around 2 1/2 times the height of the Empire State Building. As you can see from this asteroid’s label – (7482) 1994 PC1 – it’s been known since 1994. 

It is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid due to its size and relatively close known flybys of our planet. An asteroid of this size strikes Earth approximately every 600,000 years. But we have nothing to fear from 1994 PC1 at its 2022 close approach. And … a plus … amateur astronomers with backyard telescopes might catch a glimpse of it as it sweeps past..

Potentially hazardous asteroid 7482

Robert McNaught discovered asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia on August 9, 1994. With its trajectory in hand, astronomers found the space rock on earlier images from other observations that date back to September 1974. With 47 years of observations, its orbit is well established.

Closest approach to Earth occurs on January 18, 2022, at 4:51 p.m. EST (21:51 UTC). This approach will be the closest for this asteroid for at least the next 200 years for which astronomers have calculated its orbit.

The speeding asteroid will pass 1.2 million miles (1.93 million km) from Earth, or about 5.15 times the Earth-moon distance. That’s a very safe distance, yet close enough to observe easily with a small backyard telescope.

The huge space rock is traveling at 43,754 miles per hour (19.56 kilometers per second) relative to Earth. The considerable speed will enable amateur astronomers to spot the fast asteroid. It will appear as a point of light, similar to a star, passing in front of background stars over the course of the evening. Asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 will shine at around magnitude 10. An object at 10th magnitude is a decent target for observers using a 6-inch or larger backyard telescope from a dark sky site.

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