Observing

See asteroid 2018 CB’s close encounter on 9 February

8 February 2018 Ade Ashford

As darkness falls over Western Europe on the evening of 9 February, near-Earth asteroid 2018 CB lies almost overhead as seen from the UK. We show you how and when to find this 30-metre-wide space rock as it speeds through the constellations of Perseus and Triangulum, passing just one-fifth of the Moon’s distance away at 22:27 UT (10:27pm GMT).

Observing

See bright near-Earth asteroid 2002 AJ129 dash through Virgo and Leo, 5–7 February

3 February 2018 Ade Ashford

Possibly a kilometre or more in size, Apollo asteroid 2002 AJ129 passes just 10.9 lunar distances from Earth at 21:30 UT (9:30pm GMT) on 4 February — its closest approach for 114 years. For a few nights around this date the magnitude +12.6 body is well placed for observers as it gallops through the constellations of Virgo and Leo into Cancer at a rate of up to 40 degrees/day. We show you where and when to look for it.

News

Arecibo radar returns with asteroid Phaethon images

29 December 2017 Astronomy Now

After several months of downtime since Hurricane Maria struck the island of Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Observatory Planetary Radar has returned to normal operation, providing the highest-resolution images to date of near-Earth asteroid 3200 Phaethon during its December 2017 close approach to Earth.

Observing

See asteroid 2012 TC4’s close brush with Earth on 11-12 October

11 October 2017 Ade Ashford

At 6:42am BST on Thursday, 12 October our best orbit prediction for a 20-metre-wide space rock designated 2012 TC4 indicates that it will hurtle by Earth just 43,800 kilometres (27,215 miles) above the ocean between Australia and Antarctica. If UK skies are clear on 11 October and you have an 8-inch or larger telescope, you might just see it too.

Observing

See asteroid Florence’s close dolphin encounter on 2—3 September

2 September 2017 Ade Ashford

During the first week of September, observers have an opportunity to see a bright near-Earth asteroid known as 3122 Florence (aka 1981 ET3) as it sails by our planet. On the night of 2—3 September, observers in the UK and Western Europe can see this 4.4 kilometre-wide space rock pass through a prominent asterism in the constellation of Delphinus, the dolphin.

Observing

Watch near-Earth asteroid 2017 CS dash across the northern sky 28 May—1 June

23 May 2017 Ade Ashford

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.

Observing

Watch asteroid 2014 JO25 brush by Earth on 19 April

17 April 2017 Ade Ashford

A peanut-shaped asteroid almost a mile long known as 2014 JO25 passes within 5 lunar distances of Earth on 19 April — the closest any known space rock of this size has approached our planet since September 2004. We show you how to find this fast-moving potentially hazardous asteroid in small telescopes during the UK night of 19-20 April.

News

Asteroid 2013 TX68 won’t hit Earth, but will get close

2 March 2016 Astronomy Now

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.

News

NASA office to coordinate asteroid detection and hazard mitigation

12 January 2016 Astronomy Now

NASA has formalised its ongoing program for detecting and tracking near-Earth objects (NEOs) as the Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO). The office will be responsible for supervision of all NASA-funded projects to find and characterise asteroids and comets that pass near Earth. It will also take a leading role in coordinating efforts in response to any potential impact threats.

News

Peanut-shaped near-Earth asteroid 1999 JD6 imaged by radar

3 August 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA scientists have used two giant, Earth-based radio telescopes to bounce radar signals off a passing asteroid and produce images of the peanut-shaped body as it approached close to Earth on 25 July. The asteroid appears to be a contact binary — an asteroid with two lobes that are stuck together.