Close call: Asteroid 52768 is set to flyby next week


Astronomers are already observing a giant “potentially hazardous” asteroid that is due to pass relatively close to Earth on April 29.

According to a report, both professional observatories and amateur astronomers have been seeing a big – nay, enormous – asteroid officially dubbed 52768 (1998 OR2) for less than a month now. 

Already bright enough to be seen by simple telescopes on Earth, images have been captured, bringing its size to an estimated diameter of 1.8 to 4.1 km.

Half-as-tall as Mount Everest

NASA confirms that the asteroid is, indeed, the biggest of its kind to flyby this year as it is almost half the size of the Earth’s highest mountain, Mount Everest.  

In Puerto Rico, astronomers coming from the Arecibo Observatory reports that the asteroid is raging closer to Earth at speeds of about 8.7 km per second or 19.461.3 miles per hour. It appears that they have been studying the 52768 since April 8, and has already captured a high-resolution radar image of the asteroid. 

Really knowing Asteroid 52768

The said asteroid was discovered on July 24, 1998, by NASA astronomers stationed at the Haleakala Observatory working on the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program in Hawaii. 

It is described as one of the brightest and largest potentially hazardous asteroids known to exist and is said to belong to the Amor group. 

Asteroid is set to only take a glimpse of Earth

By definition, asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the sun – the larger of which are being referred to as “planetoids.” 

This being said, 52768 is indeed a planetoid, but astronomers inform that its visit on April 29 poses no threat to our planet – contrary to what alarmists and media reports have been claiming in the previous month. Further, NASA added that “near-Earth objects (NEO) occasionally approach our planet as they orbit the sun.”

In eight days, it will safely pass 6.3 million kilometers away from earth. This means that although the asteroid is indeed classified as “potentially dangerous,” it’s orbit dictates that it is so only in a time scale of hundreds if not thousands of years. 

Touch the sky

A sequence of the asteroid traveling through space was taken by Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project in Cecabbo, Italy. This sequence is a combination of exactly 166 images – a true testimony of his genuine enthusiasm. 

Dr. Masi announces that sky enthusiasts can view the epic flyby as the Virtual Telescope Project will be showing this asteroid live in eight days.

Featured image courtesy of Documentary Library/YouTube Screenshot.


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