(ORDO NEWS) — In a slow moving universe, asteroids give us a rare opportunity to see something move in real time. We have such a chance just on the evening of Tuesday, January 18, when the 1.1-kilometer asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 will fly by 1.98 million kilometers from Earth.
This is about five times the distance from the Earth to the Moon , and only a few times the distance to the sun-facing Earth-Sun Lagrange Point 2, soon to be home to the James Webb Space Telescope.
Fortunately, both the Earth and said space telescope are safe and will remain so for centuries into the foreseeable future. The asteroid was discovered on the night of August 9, 1994 by astronomer Robert McNaught of the Siding Spring Observatory.
The Apollo asteroid is approaching Earth, its perihelion is at a distance of 0.9 astronomical units (AU) from the Sun, and its aphelion is in the asteroid belt at a distance of 1.8 AU. with a circulation period of 572 days.
Near-Earth #asteroid 1994 PC1 (~1 km wide) is very well known and has been studied for decades by our #PlanetaryDefense experts. Rest assured, 1994 PC1 will safely fly past our planet 1.2 million miles away next Tues., Jan. 18.
Track it yourself here: https://t.co/JMAPWiirZh pic.twitter.com/35pgUb1anq
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) January 12, 2022
1994 PC1 is a rocky S-type asteroid and is only slightly larger than another known near-Earth asteroid, 101955 Bennu, the target of NASA’s Osiris-Rex sampling mission, which is returning to Earth with its precious payload late next year.
This week’s approach is the closest for an asteroid, from January 17, 1933, at a distance of 0.00752 AU.
Such a close approach this week gives observers the opportunity to see the asteroid with their own eyes.
This coming night, January 18 at 21:51 UT 1994, PC1 will be located on the border of Cetus and Pisces and move at a speed of 2 degrees per hour (covering an area of the sky four times the size of today’s full moon per hour) or 2 arc minutes in a minute.
This is enough to see the movement of a fast asteroid against the background of the starry sky, observing it for only a minute or two. Asteroid 1994 PC1 should have magnitude +9 or so, making it easily visible with a small telescope or binoculars.
To catch it, you will need a telescope that can accurately indicate the coordinates in right ascension and declination. You can get these ephemeris for your time and location by entering “1994 PC1” on the NASA/JPL Horizons website .
Cloudy? The Virtual Telescope Project will bring you a live webcast of the 1994 PC1 flyby starting at 20:00 UT on the 18th.
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