Artist's rendering of the view from another asteroid, Toutatis, as it approached Earth in 1996. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
Grab your telescope and get ready to duck, because an enormous space rock will be zooming through the sky the night of April 19.
Okay, fine. You won’t actually need to duck. The path of asteroid 2014 JO25 will be a near miss in space terms only, arriving in the sky 1.1 million miles from where we stand. That’s about four and a half trips to the Moon.
While it may not be the most dramatic flyby, 2014 JO25’s appearance is worth celebrating. Discovered just three years ago by astronomers with NASA's NEO (Near Earth Object) Observations Program, the rock is still pretty new to science, and we’ve got a lot more to learn.
So far we know that 2014 JO25 is very fat—about 2000 feet in diameter—and very shiny, almost twice as reflective as our silvery Moon. It’ll come at us from the same direction as the Sun and should be visible with small optical telescopes on April 19 and possibly April 20.
Asteroids whoosh by us all the time. What makes this a special event is the rock’s size and how close—again, in astronomical terms—it’ll come. We won’t get this close to another asteroid this big until at least 2027.