April 29: Watch the Skies for the Potentially Hazardous Asteroid That Will Pass Safely by the Earth


An animation image of the asteroid 1998 OR2, taken 30 minutes apart, on March 20, 2020. (Image credit: Gianluca Masi/The Virtual Telescope Project)


Have you heard the news? A very big asteroid will pass close (relatively, of course!) to the Earth. The Asteroid in question is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, Asteroid (52768) 1998 OR2. Although it is defined as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid*, there is no need to panic since there’s no chance of a collision with Earth. It orbits the sun in between the orbits of Earth and Mars and will pass 3.9 million miles (6.3 million km) away from the Earth. This distance is approximately 16 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.

*Potentially Hazardous Asteroid is an asteroid whose orbit intersects Earth’s orbit at a distance less than 4.6 million miles (7.5 million km).

When to watch for the Asteroid:

This Asteroid will be the biggest Asteroid due to fly by the Earth this year. The closest approach of the Asteroid is expected to occur on April 29 around 5:56 am Eastern time.

Can we see the Asteroid:


Radar image of asteroid 1998 OR2, acquired April 18, 2020. Credit: Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

You will need a telescope to view this huge rock.

Weather permitting, you can easily detect it during its close approach with at least 6-inch or 8-inch telescope.


How to see the Asteroid if you don’t have a telescope:

Don’t worry if you don’t have a telescope. You will still be able to watch this space rock. The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome will host a free live webcast of the asteroid starting April 28, 2020 at 2 pm EDT.

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