Large asteroid buzzes Earth

map of the path of asteroid 2004 BL86

Asteroid 2004 BL86 skims past the Earth today, passing through the constellation Cancer this evening. Times listed for the asteroid are in Universal Time; subtract 5 hours for EST, 6 hours for CST or 8 hours for PST.

JPL-Caltech/NASA

A large asteroid buzzed the Earth today at about three times the distance to the moon, the closest any known asteroid will come to our planet until 2027. The asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, is about five football fields across and poses no threat to Earth.

Astronomers plan to get a look at 2004 BL86’s surface by bouncing radar off the asteroid as it passes by. The asteroid is even close enough to be seen through a backyard telescope as it swings through the constellation Cancer this evening. 

Christopher Crockett is a freelance science writer and editor based in Arlington, Va. He has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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