On Tuesday morning, an asteroid 455176 (1999 VF22) will pass our planet. Astronomers estimate that the width of the object can be more than 400 meters. It belongs to the so-called near-Earth asteroids. This is a real opportunity to make observations, because the next such convergence will occur in more than 120 years. What will you need to see?

The convergence of Earth and asteroid (asteroid) 455176, also known as 1999 VF22, will occur on Tuesday, February 22, when it is 8.54 in Poland.

It was discovered on November 10, 1999 as part of the Catalina Sky Survey. On Tuesday morning of our era, the object will be 5.4 million kilometers from our planet – 14 times more than the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Although it is one of the potentially dangerous asteroids (ang. Potentially dangerous asteroids) – as we will explain shortly – that hitting the ground is not possible.

Orbit 455176 can pass close to Venus and Mercury as well as the vicinity of Earth. It passes one of these three planets in nearly every orbit around the Sun.

Astronomers estimate its size between 190 and 430 metres. You will be able to observe the flight, but you will need a telescope more than 30 cm in diameter. The next convergence will take place in 128 years, that is, on February 23, 2150.

A potentially dangerous object

The object belongs to a group called near-Earth objects. Near Earth Objects), as well as potentially dangerous asteroids (ang. Potentially dangerous asteroids). The latter category includes objects that approach Earth at a distance of less than 0.05 AU (19.5 times the distance to the Moon) and are large enough to cause significant regional damage on impact. Currently, there are more than 2,200 celestial bodies in the list of these, but for the vast majority of them, a collision with the Earth in the next 100 years is not considered a possibility.

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Some asteroids fly near our planet almost every day, at a distance of several million or several million kilometers, but they are usually several tens or several tens of meters in size (and may be smaller, which are difficult to track). For them, object 455176 is too large. However, it is very small, if you compare it with an object whose influence – according to hypotheses – could contribute to the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period (and then the dinosaurs became extinct after that). It is believed that the Chicxulub crater, which has a diameter of 150 kilometers, may be a remnant of this event, and the diameter of the object that contributed to its formation was about 10 kilometers.

Orbit 455176 (1999 VF22)ssd.jpl.nasa.gov

Main image source: stock struggle