spaceSpace and Physics

Watch Asteroid 2014 JO25 As It Whizzes By Earth TONIGHT

2014 JO25

2014 JO25 has a peanut-like shape. NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

An asteroid the size of the Rock of Gibraltar will be hurtling past Earth on Wednesday, April 19. Traveling at around 20,816 kilometers per hour (75,072 mph), the hunk of rock is the largest asteroid to pass this close to Earth in 13 years, and you can catch a livestream of the event below, hosted by Slooh.   

The encounter, which will start at around 19:00 EDT April 19/0:00 GMT April 20, is the closest the asteroid has been to Earth in the last 400 years, and will not pass this close again for another half a century.  


Officially known by the catchy name 2014 JO25, the peanut-shaped asteroid is expected to pass Earth at an uncomfortably close distance of 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles), which is roughly 4.6 times the distance between Earth and the moon. 

While NASA has reassured us all that it is no threat to us mere mortals down here, it is the largest asteroid to come this close to us since 2004, when the 5-kilometer-wide (3.1-mile) asteroid Toutatis passed within 1.6 million kilometers (1 million miles). The next time an asteroid of comparable size to 2014 JO25 will pass this close to Earth will be in 2027, when 1999 AN10 will hurtle past at a terrifyingly close distance of just 380,000 kilometers (236,000 miles).


Despite the asteroid having been known about and tracked since 2014, not a lot is known about 2014 JO25, apart from its trajectory. It is estimated to be between 650 and 1,400 meters (2,100 and 4,500 feet) across, but what exactly it is made of is still unknown, although its surface is thought to be around twice as reflective as that of our moon.

Despite this, the asteroid won’t be visible with the naked eye. But those lucky enough to be living somewhere with not much light pollution and a standard home telescope should be able to go asteroid spotting over the next two nights and catch a glimpse of the space rock.


For the rest of us who are living in the bright lights of the big city, you can tune into the livestream of 2014 JO25 as it whizzes past us, with the guys over at Slooh following it from their telescopes on the Canary Islands.


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