A Bus-Sized Asteroid Is About To Swing Past Earth, Closer Than The Moon

Johan SwanepoelShutterstock

An asteroid is going to fly past Earth tomorrow and, while it won’t hit us, it’s actually going to fly pretty close.

The bus-sized steroid 2018 DV1, classified as a near-Earth asteroid, will pass about 105,000 kilometers (65,000 miles) from our planet at about noon EDT tomorrow, March 2.

For comparison, the Moon orbits at 385,000 kilometers (240,000 miles), meaning 2018 DV1 will come more than three times closer. It will be the sixth closest asteroid to pass Earth in 2018, and the 18th to fly within the orbit of the Moon.

This asteroid is in an orbit around the Sun that takes about 358 Earth days. The furthest distance from the Sun it reaches, its aphelion, is 1.15 AU (1 AU, astronomical unit, is the Earth-Sun distance). Its closest point, its perihelion, is 0.82 AU.

Looking back at its previous passes, we can see this is the closest it has ever come to our planet. Its previous closest approach was also March 2, way back in 1906. Back then, it reached a distance of 442,000 kilometers (275,000 miles).

Our predictions for its orbit up to 2067 (there’s no available data beyond that) don’t show it making any approaches as close as the one tomorrow. And fortunately, there are no known asteroids on a collision course with Earth. Hooray!

We’ve had quite a few asteroids make close passes to Earth already this year, though. Back on February 4, we had 2002 AJ129, which flew past at a relatively large distance of 4.2 million kilometers (2.6 million miles). But its size, comparable to a skyscraper, drew some attention. Then on February 9, an asteroid called 2018 CB flew past at a distance of 64,000 kilometers (39,000 miles).

Both of those were close enough to earn them the moniker of a “potentially hazardous asteroid” (PHA), although don’t worry too much. NASA classifies anything as a PHA that exceeds 500 feet (140 meters) in size and comes closer than 7.5 million kilometers (4.6 million miles) to Earth.

So 2018 DV1 is yet another space rock heading our way, but as usual there’s nothing to worry about. Still, if you’re interested, you’ll be able to watch it online at the Virtual Telescope Project. And there’s another asteroid to look forward to on March 7, called 2017 VR12, which will pass 1.4 million kilometers (870,000 miles) from our planet.

Also, it might be worth thinking about asteroids a bit more seriously at some point, if we want to avoid the fate of the dinosaurs in the future. Just saying.

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