Potentially a kilometer or more in the measure, Apollo space rock 2002 AJ129 passes only 10.9 lunar separations from Earth at 9:30 pm GMT on February 4th, and it’s its nearest approach for a long time.
This circles the Sun once every 586 days in a very unusual circle. Studies show that its distance across lies in the range 480 meters to 1.1 kilometers.
So what happens in February?
If any reasonable skies happen amid the primary seven day stretch of February, don’t miss a broad space shake with the snappy assignment 276033 (2002 AJ129) as it tears past our planet under eleven lunar separations away. Anticipated to achieve a pinnacle greatness of +12.6 between the 5th and 7th of February, this close Earth space rock is a practical focus for 15cm opening telescopes and bigger as it dashes through the constellations of Virgo, Leo and into Cancer.
At 9:30 pm GMT, on the 4th of February, 2002 AJ129 passes Earth at a separation of 4.2 million kilometers, or 2.6 million miles, or somewhat under eleven times the separation of the Moon. In late history, the single time it has come nearer to our planet was on 6 February 1904 – 3 million kilometers; 1.9 million miles.
Is this dangerous for the Earth?
Even if it was delegated as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA), there is no possibility that 2002 AJ129 could crash into Earth throughout the following 100 years. The following close approach is that of 13h UT on 8 February 2172 when the body skims by our planet at a separation of 0.00458 cosmic units or 1.8 lunar separations.
The watching window where the space rock is thirteenth extent or brighter starts on the UK night of 4 February and keeps going three evenings, so ideally the climate will oblige. The melting away gibbous Moon is rising later every night, after 12 pm by the seventh, so its glare is to a lesser degree a deterrent.
The night of 4 February for UK onlookers finds 2002 AJ129 in the group of stars of Corvus (the Crow) south of Virgo, flying out at near 1 and 1/3 degrees per hour against the foundation stars.
This is a testing astrophotographic open door for imagers in mainland Western Europe with the gibbous Moon only 12 degrees away. Moreover, the combine will be low in the southeast for onlookers in the British Isles.