If any clear skies occur during the last week of October, don’t miss any opportunities to view a 700-metre-wide space rock with the catchy designation 162082 (1998 HL1) as it hurtles past our planet slightly more than sixteen lunar distances away at 17:20 UT (6:20pm BST) on 25 October 2019.
Predicted to reach a peak magnitude of +12.4 on 27 October, this near-Earth asteroid is a viable target for 6-inch (15-cm) aperture telescopes and larger for five nights as it zips through the constellations of Triangulum, Aries and into Cetus at rates of up to 9 degrees/day relative to the background stars. (See the bottom of this page for a table of predicted positions at hourly intervals for observers in the UK and Western Europe.)Although classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA), there is no chance that 1998 HL1 could collide with Earth for at least 120 years. The next time it passes closer to Earth than this apparition is on 26 October 2140 when it zips by our planet at a distance of 6.18 million kilometres, or 3.8 million miles.Discovered by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project at Socorro, New Mexico on 18 April 1998, 162082 (1998 HL1) is an Apollo-type asteroid that loops the Sun once every 508 days in an eccentric orbit inclined by 20 degrees to the ecliptic.
Uranus’ small moon Miranda, as revealed by NASA’s Voyager 2 probe in 1986, is one of the strangest bodies in the solar system, with a unique patchwork appearance and cliffs towering 20 kilometres (12 miles) high.
Discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey on 6 October 2013 a week before its last close flyby of Earth, 30-metre-wide asteroid 2013 TX68 was initially thought to pass by Earth again on 5 March 2016. Additional observations of the body have now been obtained, refining its orbital path and moving the date of the asteroid’s close brush with our planet to 8 March.
Outermost planet Neptune reaches opposition on 2 September 2016, this year marking the 170th anniversary of the gas giant’s discovery. But you don’t have to wait six week to observe the farthest known planet of the solar system, because the waning gibbous Moon drops close by in the small hours of Saturday, 23 July as seen from the British Isles.