On April 29, the asteroid pass will be visible for amateur astronomers as a slow-moving star. If you are not one but still want to observe the asteroid crossing the night sky, the Rome-based Virtual Telescope Project will already cover the event with a live stream that will start on April 28.
“Observers with at least 6-inch or 8-inch telescopes (the number indicates the size of the primary mirror) will see the asteroid (very slowly) moving in front of the stars,” says Eddie Irizarry, NASA’s solar system ambassador.
1998 OR2 is an asteroid on an eccentric orbit, classified as near-Earth object and potentially hazardous. A potentially hazardous object is a near-Earth asteroid (or comet) with an orbit that can make close approaches to the Earth and large enough to cause significant regional damage in the event of an impact. No need for worries, as 98% of the known potentially hazardous objects are not an impact threat over the next 100 years.
The most massive asteroid to fly by Earth in 2020 is not a threat for our planet
1998 OR2 is 2.5 miles (4.1 km) across and has a diameter of 2–4 kilometers. On April 29, it’ll pass by at a very safe distance of 4 million miles (6 million km). It was discovered on July 24, 1998, and it is considered one of the brightest and therefore most significant potentially hazardous asteroids known to exist.
With an observation arc of 32 years, the asteroid has a well-determined orbit, and the trajectory is well known through the year 2197. It is an asteroid of the Amor group, which means it does not currently cross Earth’s orbit. On April 16, 2079, this asteroid will make its next near-Earth encounter also at a safe distance.
Asteroids’ behavior has a significant impact on the Solar System dynamic character. During an asteroid’s close approaches to planets or moons (other than Earth), it will be gravitationally perturbed. It shall modify its orbit, and potentially become a threatening asteroid for planet Earth.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.