Space Research

Massive asteroid 2017 VR12 passes by Earth without fuss

As reported earlier, the “potentially hazardous” asteroid 2017 VR12 zoomed close by Earth on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. The fact that the asteroid in question was almost of the size of New York’s Empire State building was enough to arouse star gazers’ interest.

According to NASA, the 2017 VR12 asteroid passed within about around 900,000 miles at its closest point. That’s almost equal to about 3.8 times the average distance between the Earth and moon. The distance was close enough for stargazers to witness the passing asteroid with high-powered telescopes.

The asteroid flyby was captured live by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope Project and Michael Schwartz of Tenagra Observatories in Arizona. The asteroid appears as a big bright white dot in the footage with uncountable stars in the background.

In a bid to capture the asteroid in a video, Masi and Schwartz used a telescope to track the asteroid’s motion, which appears stationary, for 122 long minutes. They combined 240 images to make the 16-second short video. You can check out the video clip below.

According to the Asteroid Watch program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the 2017 VR12 asteroid is 840 feet (256 meters) across and about the size of a stadium. The space agency has confirmed that the asteroid won’t be back again until 2026. The asteroid’s next close flyby will be on March 19, 2026.

Notably, 2017 VR12 was first discovered by NASA’s Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii on November 10, 2017. As per NASA, those asteroids that are larger than 492 feet (150 meters) and come within 4,600,000 miles of Earth are labeled as hazardous.

While 2017 VR12 isn’t exactly tiny, it’s not as big as a planet killer asteroid. The massive object that created the massive Chicxulub crater in Mexico is believed to have been as large as 9.3 miles across.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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