Friday, January 27, 2023

Asteroid Watch

Yesterday an asteroid the size of a minibus narrowly passed by the Earth. Asteroid 2023 BU actually missed the Earth by 2,200 miles, but was so close that it passed inside the arc of our orbiting telecommunications satellites (orbiting around 22,000 miles).

Thanks to NASA's Eyes on Asteroids you can take a closer look at 2023 BU and even replay its close pass-by of Earth. NASA’s 3D interactive celestial map plots the locations of comets and asteroids in real-time. The map tracks the orbits of every known near-Earth object (currently around 28,000 objects).

If you enter the name 2023 BU into the Eyes on Asteroid search box you can view a 3D model of the asteroid. Using the slide control at the bottom of the map you can then move back and forward in time to view the asteroid's orbital motion (and replay its close fly-by of Earth). 

The asteroid was only discovered last Saturday, by a Crimean amateur astronomer named Gennady Borisov. Even if 2023 BU's orbit had led to a collision with Earth it is unlikely that it would have done much damage, Because of its size BU 2023 would most likely have been destroyed high in Earth's atmosphere. Small pieces of the asteroid may have fallen to Earth as meteorites.

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