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An asteroid the size of 5 cars will pass near Earth

An asteroid the size of 5 cars will pass near Earth

A space rock the size of five cars is expected to pass near Earth and the Moon over the weekend. The asteroid is classified as a near-Earth object (near-Earth objects, or NEO) and was discovered last week. However, it poses no danger to the planet and is considered small by space standards.

  • The space rock is called 2024 BJ and is about 25 meters in diameter.
  • The asteroid was discovered on January 17, and was announced the next day International Astronomical Union;
  • It is scheduled to approach the Earth and the Moon on January 27 (Saturday).

The asteroid is supposed to approach the Moon at around 11 a.m. Brasilia time, and will fly much further away from it than from our planet. About 3 and a half hours later, at around 2:30 p.m., it will reach its closest pass to Earth.

Although it is considered a near-Earth object by cosmic standards, it will pass about 353 thousand kilometers from our planet, which is equivalent to 92% of the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, meaning that it does not pose any danger to us.

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Asteroid orbit

Orbit of asteroid 2024 BJ (Credit: Virtual Telescope)

Asteroid 2024 BJ is one of 158 space objects discovered this year alone and one of 119 Apollo-type asteroids. These objects reach Earth as they approach the Sun, but their orbits go much further. In the case of this space rock, which is expected to approach the planet over the weekend, it is closer to the sun than we are, but its orbit extends beyond Mars.

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Finding new asteroids and analyzing their orbits, such as 2024 BJ, allows scientists to assess the chances of colliding with Earth and issue warnings before it is too late. That same week, on the 21st, a meteorite just 1 meter in diameter entered the Earth's atmosphere over Germany and a warning was issued about 75 minutes earlier.