BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - If you haven't heard about it, we've got an out-of-this-world visitor making a fly-by Monday and Tuesday. Labeled '2004 BL86,' this is an asteroid about one-third of a mile across -- pretty big by Earth standards for objects flying-by this close.
So just how close? About 745,000 miles out -- about three times farther away than the Moon! So it offers no threat to Earth (or the Moon) whatsoever, but what makes it interesting is that it is the Earth's closest (significant) space visitor in decades and will be the closest until 2027, when 1999 AN10 will pass by.
You may be able to see BL86 with a decent telescope, but certainly not with the naked eye and probably not with a standard pair of binoculars.
However, if you have a decent telescope, look in the sky tonight around 10 p.m. just a little to the right of the bright object, the planet Jupiter. For those that know their constellations, 'BL86' will be tracking right through the heart of Cancer between roughly 6pm tonight and 6am tomorrow.
According to NASA, asteroid 2004 BL86 was discovered on Jan. 30, 2004, by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands, New Mexico.
Asteroid 1999 AN10, a kilometer-size asteroid, could pass particularly close to the Earth on August 7, 2027. The passage in 2027 could be as close as 37,000 km from the Earth's center (just 19,000 miles above the Earth's surface), but no closer. The miss distance is still very uncertain, and the asteroid could easily pass well outside the Moon's orbit. The probability of a collision in 2027 is essentially zero.
To read more about 2004 BL86, click here.
For more about 199 AN10, click here.