An asteroid will fly by Earth Tomorrow

It’s not the end of times, but astrophysicists say an asteroid—known as 2004 BL86, and expected to be half a kilometre wide—will fly by Earth Tomorrow. While it has no instant threat to our survival, researchers are keeping a close eye because it’ll be the closest approach of a “significantly-sized” asteroid until the year 2027. By then, NASA is hopeful that we can in fact capture one to witness more closely.

“When we get our radar data back the day after the flyby, we will have the first detailed images,” said radar astrophysicist Lance Benner of NASA’s JPL. “At present, we know almost nothing about the asteroid, so there is bound to be amazements.”

Astronomers at present have their sights set on a ton of near-Earth things, and the coming up pass should give researchers a really good chance to witness and report. BL86 shouldn't get any nearer than 3 Earth-moon distances, or about 745,000 miles from where you and I sit right now. It will, though, be close enough for astrophysicists to study it using high-powered telescopes and take accurate measurements.

In fact, subject to the circumstances, everyday people might be capable to see BL86 with a powerful pair of binoculars. You won't have to duck, but just know that a large asteroid will fly by tomorrow.
This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2004 BL86, which will come no closer than about three times the distance from Earth to the moon on Jan. 26, 2015. Due to its orbit around the sun (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)



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