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.
Latest predictions indicate that second-largest asteroid (4) Vesta will pass in front of magnitude +5.3 star HIP 14439 in the constellation of Aries close to 10:02pm GMT (22:02 UT) on Tuesday, 11 February 2020, a binocular event visible from the north of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Uranus, the remote seventh planet from the Sun and the third-largest planet overall, comes to opposition on the night of 4/5 November, when it can be easily found through a pair of humble 10 x 50 binoculars.