Big asteroid to sweep close to Earth on January 26

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Big asteroid to sweep close to Earth on January 26

A big asteroid more than the size of a luxury cruise ship will pass by Earth later this month, so close you can actually see it on your binoculars.

Although there’s no danger of impact, this one is huge; twice as big as a cruise ship.

The asteroid, called 2004 BL86 by astronomers, will sweep safely past Earth on January 26, 2015. It will be the closest of any known space rock this large until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past Earth in 2027, and it’ll be the closest this particular asteroid will come to Earth for at least the next 200 years.

This asteroid is estimated from its reflected brightness to be about 500 meters in diameter (about a third of a mile, or 0.5 km). At the time of its closest approach – January 26, 2015 at 16:20 UTC, or 11:20 a.m. EST – the asteroid will be approximately 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth, or about three times the moon’s distance.

The asteroid was discovered on Jan. 30, 2004 by a telescope of the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research survey in White Sands, New Mexico.

It’ll be observable by amateur astronomers with small telescopes and strong binoculars. (Source: NASA)

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