Half-kilometer Asteroid to Pass Closely By on January 26

Remember to duck on Jan 26…

Lights in the Dark

Animation of 2004 BL86's close pass on Jan. 26, 2015. (NASA/JPL)Animation of 2004 BL86’s close pass on Jan. 26, 2015. (NASA/JPL)

Just under two weeks from now, on Monday, Jan. 26, the 1/3-mile (0.5-km) -wide potentially hazardous asteroid 357439 (2004 BL86) will pass by Earth at 3.1 lunar distances, or 739,680 miles (1,190,400 km). While this may sound like a long way off, in the grand scheme of things it’s still a close pass… especially for an object as wide as the Burj Khalifa is high!

Don’t worry though – there’s no risk of an impact from 2004 BL86. It will go sailing by harmlessly at a relative 15.6 km/s velocity (that is, 34,900 mph) back out into the Solar System, just another rocky reminder that Earth is definitely not alone out here.

And, thankfully, astronomers will be watching.

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