Astronomer Snaps Large Asteroid Zooming Past Earth; Was It Dangerous?

Astronomer Snaps Large Asteroid Zooming Past Earth; Was It Dangerous?
On Tuesday, a house-sized asteroid flew relatively close to Earth and an astronomer captured it through a virtual telescope. Photo : MORGAN SETTE/AFP via Getty Images

On Tuesday, a house-sized asteroid flew relatively close to Earth and an astronomer captured it through a virtual telescope.

Aside from this asteroid, there are other space objects expected to approach Earth this month--one of which is bigger than the Empire State building!

Asteroid Warning: Huge Space Object Zoomed Past Earth

An asteroid known as 2022 AC4 passed over on Tuesday, coming within 58,000 kilometers of Earth. This may appear to be a significant distance when compared to human daily travels, but it is less than a quarter of the distance to the Moon, per News Week.

For those who do not know, Space Googlevesaire stated that the said asteroid is part of the Apollo group, and it was first discovered by Mt. Lemmon Survey on January 9, 2022. Moreover, 2022 AC4 revolves around the Sun in 582 Earth days, or 1.59 Earth years, moving 272 million kilometers away from the Sun and approaching 136 million kilometers.

For the past two months, 2022 AC4 is said to be the closest space object that passed by Earth.

2022 AC4 approached Earth at a speed of about 18,700 miles per hour. Its diameter is estimated to be between 14 and 31 feet, making it roughly the size of a large house.

The manager of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, Gianluca Masi, captured a shot of the asteroid flying past the planet.

The asteroid was observed across the sky by the telescope, which captured a single 120-second exposure photo. The asteroid was around 217,000 miles distant at the said captured time.

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Virtual Telescope Captures Asteroid

According to the Virtual Telescope Project, the image was captured remotely with "Elena," which is a robotic equipment accessible at Virtual Telescope from a single 120-second exposure.

The asteroid's quick apparent speed was followed by the telescope, which is why stars appear as lengthy trails. The asteroid appeared as a crisp dot of light in the center of the captured image.

Despite the fact that the sky was mostly gloomy, astronomers were able to photograph the said asteroid.

Is 2022 AC4 Dangerous?

Despite its close approach, NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) does not classify 2022 AC4 as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA), and there were no threats to our planet.

To be classified as potentially dangerous, an asteroid must be predicted to come close enough to Earth while simultaneously being large enough.

CNEOS also clarified that an asteroid is not deemed a PHA if it can't approach closer to Earth than 4.6 million miles or has a diameter of fewer than 500 feet.

To further emphasize, CNEOS stated that "potential to make close Earth approaches does not mean a PHA will impact the Earth."

"It only means there is a possibility for such a threat. By monitoring these PHAs and updating their orbits as new observations become available, we can better predict the close-approach statistics and thus their Earth-impact threat," CNEOS furthered.

Other Asteroids That Will Approach Earth

The asteroid 2022 AC4 is not the only space object that has gained a huge amount of attention recently.

On January 18, an asteroid approximately 3,500 feet in diameter will pass within 1.2 million miles of our planet. The said space object is known as asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1).

As previously reported, this asteroid is around two-and-a-half times the size of the Empire State Building, and it will only pass by Earth. Additionally, this space debris is categorized as a potentially dangerous asteroid due to its size of 3,280 feet in diameter (PHA).

Although categorizing it as potentially harmful makes it appear dangerous, this does not mean it will impact the Earth.

Aside from this, there are also two asteroids expected to pass Earth on January 13. The said asteroids are 2022 AU5 and 2022 AQ2, which both have a size comparable to a house.

Related Article: NASA Warns Massive Bus-Sized Asteroid Approaching Earth in January 2022; Is It Hazardous?

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