Asteroid 1998 OR2 is set to zip by our planet on April 29th and while it’s not going to hit us, it is going to be quite the experience for those who put their telescopes to use. This asteroid is huge and in recent times astronomers were able to snap some ‘fresh images’ of it.
This close encounter we’re going to be facing will be the closest one we’ve had with this asteroid in at least a century according to RT and while it will still be a safe distance of around four million miles from Earth, that’s closer than you might expect. Two astronomer teams were able to catch some images of this asteroid recently and in their images, you can tell that this asteroid is getting brighter and brighter.
#TeamRadar and the @NAICobservatory staff are taking the proper safety measures as we continue observations. This week we have been observing near-Earth asteroid 1998 OR2, which looks like it’s wearing a mask! It’s at least 1.5 km across and is passing 16 lunar distances away! pic.twitter.com/X2mQJCT2Qg
— Arecibo Radar (@AreciboRadar) April 18, 2020
While this might not sound that exciting to the average person, this gives sky watchers the chance to learn more about this asteroid and really work to understand it on a deeper level. The more we learn the more we will in the future hopefully be to protect ourselves from any of these big space rocks that do end up hurtling towards Earth. Lots of astronomers are watching this asteroid and will continue to do so until it has passed by safely.
Space.com wrote as follows about this asteroid:
Astronomers estimate that 1998 OR2 is between 1.1 and 2.5 miles (1.8 to 4.1 kilometers) wide — big enough that an impact could threaten human civilization. But, to repeat, there is nothing to fear here; the asteroid will miss us by a large margin on April 29.
Indeed, you should quell any general death-from-above fears that may be running rampant in your head. NASA has found and tracked the vast majority of giant near-Earth asteroids, and none of them pose a threat to Earth for the foreseeable future.
If you don’t happen to have a telescope, don’t worry you can still watch this asteroid pass if you click here on the 29th to see a life webcast of it passing. Things like this will always be truly fascinating and who knows what more the future could hold in regard. I for one will be getting my telescope out for sure.