Watch a Large, Stony Asteroid Race Across the Sky

The kilometer-wide, potentially hazardous asteroid 1994 PC1 will fly past Earth on January 18th. Good news on two counts: It won't hit us, and it's bright enough to see in a 4-inch telescope.

Artist's concept of the view from asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1

Asteroids routinely pass near Earth, but most range from several to a few dozen meters across and appear faint. Asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 is considerably larger and brighter and will be making a close approach on January 18th. As seen from the asteroid at that time, the Earth's apparent size will be 23 arcminutes or about two-thirds the apparent size of the Moon. An artist's concept shows an extreme perspective of the scene.


Asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 is big and potentially hazardous, meaning that its orbit intersects Earth's. 

But this time around, the space rock comfortably misses Earth and instead puts on a safe show for small telescope users.

Watching a fast-moving asteroid is a total blast. Once you lock on, you're in the astronomical fast lane, cruising across star fields, making and breaking asterisms with abandon. We're so used to celestial objects moving slowly or not at all. 

That's what makes observing Earth-approaching asteroids such a treat. You get a taste of what cosmic velocity really means.

The post Watch a Large, Stony Asteroid Race Across the Sky appeared first on Sky & Telescope.

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