‘Potentially Hazardous’ Asteroid 2017 VR 12 to Make a Close Pass With Earth
Get those telescopes ready, people! There’s a gigantic and, of course, “potentially hazardous” asteroid heading our way and – weather permitting – budding astronomers will be able to spot the not-so-little fella with a backyard ‘scope.
Asteroid 2017 VR 12, which is about the size of the Empire State Building, will flash its pearly whites between late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning and will come within an estimated 900,000 miles of Earth.
Apollo-type PHA 2017 VR12. Diameter 230-510m. Close approach March 7th. Distance of 0.01au. The asteroid can be seen here passing through two different star fields#SpotTheAsteroid@AsteroidDay @NEOShieldTeam @CloseApproaches @AsteroidTracker @AstronomyFM pic.twitter.com/9ShiEGJoBl
— Northolt Branch Obs (@NBObservatories) March 5, 2018
Traveling through space at a speed of 14,000 mph, the asteroid will be “most observable” around 11 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday when it travels in front of the constellation Virgo, Earth Sky reported. The asteroid isn’t expected to reach its closest approach to Earth until roughly 2:53 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday.
Although NASA has identified the asteroid as “potentially hazardous,” officials have indicated that it does not pose any threat to Earth since it’s at a distance of roughly three times farther than the moon.
According to NASA’s calculations, another 177 years will pass before the asteroid comes near Earth again for another quick hello.
Astronomers are tracking close-passing asteroid 2017 VR12https://t.co/DL2nIA8gGN
It'll pass closest to Earth – 3.76 times the moon's distance – during the night of March 6-7.
It's a good target for radar, and amateur astronomers might catch it with small telescopes. pic.twitter.com/GWiXPpw40u
— EarthSky (@earthskyscience) February 18, 2018
Asteroid 2017 VR 12 was first discovered on November 10, 2017, by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Interested stargazer and asteroid fanatics can also catch a glimpse of the traveling rock by tuning into the Virtual Telescope Project‘s 7 p.m. live coverage on Tuesday.