Asteroid watch: ‘Near Earth Object’ will pass by on 20 May

Asteroid 2020 KR will pass by Earth at a safe distance on Wednesday, 20 May 2020. Here’s what you need to know.

There’s no need to head out to your underground bunker just yet, we’re safe. An asteroid classified as a ‘near Earth object’ will be passing by our region of space on Wednesday, 20 May, but at a safe distance.

ASTEROID 2020 KR: HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

According to TheSkyLive, the Near Earth Object (NEO) named Asteroid 2020 KR will pass by Earth at on 20 May at 02:12 SAST (or 00:12 if you’re in the UK), at a distance of 397 369 kilometres.

The asteroid will be travelling at a relative speed of 13.77 kilometres per second. Asteroid 2020 KR is currently in the constellation of Hercules. The image below shows its location at the time of publishing.

The first finder chart has a field of view of 50 degrees, while the second one has a field of view of 10 degrees.

asteroid 2020 KR NEO
Image credit: theskylive.com

At the time of publishing, the asteroid was 552 111 kilometres from Earth, which means it takes light approximately 1.8416 seconds to travel from 2020 KR to Earth, according to TheSkyLive.com.

Tomorrow’s approach is estimated to be the closest that Asteroid 2020 KR will be to Earth for a time period from January 2013 to December 2100.

ASTEROID 2020 KR STATS FOR NERDS

ElementSymbolValue
Orbit eccentricitye0.45320852
Orbit inclinationi9.42509843°
Perihelion distanceq0.78179406 AU
116,954,726 km
Aphelion distanceQ2.07777519 AU
310,830,745 km
Semi-major axisa1.42978462 AU
213,892,736 km
Orbital periodperiod1.7100 years
624.4596 days
Date of perihelion transitTp2020-Jul-10 23:59:56
2,459,041.5000 JD
Argument of perihelionperi253.72856278578°
Longitude of the ascending nodenode59.812698765114°
Mean anomalyM336.36358628085°
Mean motionn0.57649845°/day

POSSIBLE ASTEROID HITS

The European Space Agency confirmed that more than 800 asteroids are at risk of hitting Earth in the next 100 years. Actually, 878 asteroids, to be precise.

The next possible hit is believed to be Asteroid 1998 OR2, which will pass by Earth again in 2079. It was in our region earlier this year, and its next trip will be closer still.

“1998 OR2 is still categorised as a large ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’ because, over the course of millennia, very slight changes in the asteroid’s orbit may cause it to present more of a hazard to Earth than it does now.”

WHEN IS AN ASTEROID ‘POTENTIALLY HAZARDOUS’?

Any fast-moving space object (mostly comets and asteroids) that comes within around 7.48 million kilometres is considered to be “potentially hazardous” by cautious space organisations.

As of January 2020, there are 2044 known potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs), of which 157 are estimated to be larger than one kilometre in diameter.

NO REASON TO WORRY JUST YET

Professor Greg Leonard, an asteroid specialist at the University of Otago, warned that there is a !100% chance” an asteroid will hit Earth if we don’t start doing something about it; soon.

That said, NASA seems to disagree. The agency claims that it “knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, and added:

“In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years. It’s likely that we could identify a threatening near-Earth object large enough to potentially cause catastrophic changes in the Earth’s environment, and most astronomers believe that a systematic approach to studying asteroids and comets that pass close to the Earth makes good sense.”

Source: https://www.thesouthafrican.com/