This 2020 “donates” us an almost third world war, a pandemic as we didn’t see for 100 years, an asteroid that will pass by the Earth the 29th of april. “Now my money is on the 2021!”, it’s the motto that now jumps from a social to another, because let’s say the true, this 2020 really disappoint us. And many wonder, ironically or maybe not, after survived to a pandemic will I die for an asteroid? Between pandemics and distructions for a meteor impact, which will be the apocalypse that will affect the Earth in this fatal year? We are talking about OR2, an asteroid potentially dangerous that will pass by the earth in a few days. But don’t worry, it’s only another problem that will face the humanity this year and the NASA reassures us: the asteroid will pass by the Earth, but it won’t touch it.
Who is OR2, the asteroid that will pass by the Earth in a few days?
There are about 758.000 catalogued asteroids that pass next to the Earth, 1900 of them are considered potentially dangerous for it. OR2 is one of them.
OR2 was discovered in the 1998 and it was promptly put between the ones potentially dangerous. This because it had some characteristics. It has a diameter of about one kilometers and a half and to be considered dangerous it must be bigger than 140-150 meters. So it’s over this characteristic.
Another characteristic that it must have to be considered potentially dangerous it’s about its orbit. It is between the ones that get closer than 7.5 million of kilometers to the Earth.
OR2, in its minor distance, will pass by the Earth of 6 million of kilometers. But we don’t have to be worry neither, because, as the NASA reassures, 6 million of kilometers means about 16 times the distance Earth-Moon. In the past many asteroid get much closer than how much OR2 will do, but these were even much smaller.
The observation of OR2
Sure, all these reassurances make not all relaxed. And the biggest part of who waits for the passage of the asteroid will remain with the bated breath at least until the 30th of april, when the crisis will be averted.
This close passage is, instead, reason of study for many astronomers. OR2 will be observable with telescope even really small and even with simple binoculars, as well as many instruments, like radars, optical and thermic appliances.
The usage of all these instruments, for the whole time during which the asteroid will pass very close to the planet Earth, will allow to understand many secrets of it. Like more detailed measurements, physical property, rotation, percentage of light that it reflects from the sun, etc.
Currently the size, even if we know that they are considerable, are still included in a too large range: between 1,8 and 4,1 kilometers. The Observatory of Arecibo, in Puerto Rico, discovered already that it has a diameter of at least one kilometer and half, but these close observations will allow to do more precise calculations.
Here you have how to see the asteroid
No destruction, so. Only a lot of tension and a lot of emotion for the close passage of a such big asteroid. But can we see it?
In the period of maximum approach of the asteroid it will visible even from Italy. It will be the night between the 28th and the 29th of april, while the best time will be between the 21.30 and the 22.00, even if it will be visible for almost all the night.
The position that it will occupy in the sky will be at 25 degree at south-west, between the stars of the Hydra and the constellation of the Lion. To see it it will be enough a small telescope or a great binocular.
An occasion that we can’t miss, because the next time that OR2 will come back to visit us it will be in the 2079. Even if in that case the “don’t worry” will be fewer, because it will pass only 1,8 million of kilometers away. But we still have 59 years to think about it.
This post is also available in: Italiano