INDIANA – A newly discovered asteroid will come very close to Earth this Thursday.
Asteroid 2023 BU measures between 12 and 28 feet wide (3.8 to 8.5 meters), and was just discovered on Saturday, Jan. 21 by astronomer Gennadiy Borisov at the MARGO Observatory in Crimea.
When it passes by Earth at its closest on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 4:17 p.m. EST (2117 GMT), the space rock will be within less than 3% of the average Earth-moon distance at an altitude of just 2,178 miles (3,506 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.
For comparison, most geostationary satellites orbit at an altitude of around 22,200 miles (35,800 km).
Most asteroids aren’t bright enough to be seen without a powerful telescope; luckily, you can watch asteroid 2023 BU make its close encounter with our planet thanks to the Virtual Telescope Project.
Astronomer Gianluca Masi will be hosting a free livestream of the asteroid’s pass on the project’s website or YouTube channel on Thursday, Jan. 26 starting at 2:15 p.m. EST (1915 GMT).
Asteroid 2023 BU is known as an Apollo-type asteroid, which means its orbit crosses that of Earth but spends most of its time well outside the path of our planet, according to the Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. 2023 BU orbits the sun every 425 days and will not pass close to our planet again until Dec. 6, 2036.
While asteroid 2023 BU will pass extremely close to Earth, it is not categorized as potentially hazardous. That’s because its small size means it would likely break up and incinerate in Earth’s atmosphere.