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'Potentially hazardous' asteroid passes by earth keeping sky gazers glued

Wednesday April 19, 2017 9:40 PM, Agencies

2014 J025

An asteroid, more than a 400 meters wide, will pass close to Earth on Wednesday, zooming by at a distance of just over a 1.8 million kilometers, but with no chance of impact, according to NASA scientists.

According to NASA the encounter on April 19 will be the closest the asteroid comes to Earth in 400 years, and no projected future encounters will be as close for at least another 480 years.

However, another fly-by is expected in 2091 and the space rock also makes regular close approaches to Mercury and Venus

"We know the time that the object is going to be closest within seconds, and the distance is known within hundreds of kilometers," Davide Farnocchia, a mathematician at NASA's Near-Earth Object program, said on Tuesday.

Having several years of data on the asteroid's trajectory gives scientists the ability to predict its path very confidently, he added.

The asteroid, estimated to be between one-quarter and three-quarters of a 600-1,400 meters wide and twice as reflective as the Moon, won't be visible to the naked eye, but sky watchers should be able to view it with home telescopes for one or two nights starting on Wednesday, Eye Witness News (EWN) reported.

The approach of J025 will be the asteroid's closest for at least the next 500 years. In 2004, the five-kilometer-wide asteroid Toutatis passed about four lunar distances, or just under a 1.6 million kilometers from Earth.

‘2014 JO25’ has been designated as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) by the Minor Planet Center. PHA’s are asteroids larger than 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 7,495,839km (about 4,658,000 miles), which is equal to 19.5 ‘Lunar distances’.

Despite 2014 JO25’s designation as a PHA, projections predict it will pass by Earth at a safe distance of about 1.8 million km (4.57 lunar distances).

Two other big asteroids, ‘2003 BD44’ and ‘1999 CU3’, which are both nearly 2km wide, will also pass by our planet shortly, however they won’t come as close as 2014.

Astrowatch report 1,781 PHAs were detected on Sunday, however – happily – none of them is on a projected collision course with Earth.

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