Biggest Asteroid Fly-By Until 2027 Happens Monday

Grab your binoculars to spot 2004 BL86, NASA says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2015 11:07 PM CST
Updated Jan 23, 2015 12:30 AM CST
This NASA chart tracks 2004 BL86's path.   (NASA)

(Newser) – If you've ever wanted to get a good look at an asteroid, Monday night will be your best chance for more than a decade. Asteroid 2004 BL86, a space rock about a third of a mile in diameter, will be 745,000 miles away on Monday, around three times as far away as the moon, reports CNN. Barring cosmic surprises, the next close encounter with something that big will be in 2027, and NASA says that while 2004 BL86 doesn't pose any threat, it gives astronomers a "unique opportunity to observe and learn more." Very little is known about this particular asteroid and it won't be this close again for 200 years.

Amateur astronomers might be able to see the space rock with strong telescopes or binocuIars. "I may grab my favorite binoculars and give it a shot myself," the chief of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office says in a press release. "Asteroids are something special. Not only did asteroids provide Earth with the building blocks of life and much of its water, but in the future, they will become valuable resources for mineral ores and other vital natural resources. They will also become the fueling stops for humanity as we continue to explore our solar system. There is something about asteroids that makes me want to look up." Tech Times has some tips for those who want to try to spot 2004 BL86, which will be at its brightest between 11:07pm and 11:52pm EST. (Read more asteroid stories.)

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