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.
Five hundred-metre-wide asteroid 2017 CS passes just 1.9 million miles, or 7.9 lunar distances, from Earth on the afternoon of Monday 29 May 2017. For a few nights around this date, Northern Hemisphere observers with 6-inch and larger ‘scopes can see the asteroid gallop through the constellations of Canes Venatici, Boötes and Hercules at up to 14 degrees/day.
At 9:24am GMT on 31 October 2016, near-Earth asteroid 164121 (2003 YT1) will safely fly by at a distance of 3.2 million miles (5.2 million kilometres), or 13.5 times the distance of the Moon. Furthermore, this 1.1-mile-(1.7-kilometre)-wide Apollo asteroid also passes very close to Polaris early on 2 November, creating a rare astrophotographic and observing opportunity.
Possibly as large as The Shard in London, Apollo asteroid 2017 VR12 passes just 3¾ lunar distances from Earth at 7:53am GMT on 7 March. For a few nights, this magnitude +12 space rock is a viable target for small backyard telescopes as it gallops through Coma Berenices and Virgo, passing just 0.8 degrees from Spica on the UK night of 7–8 March.