An large asteroid will make its closet approach to Earth on Monday, giving amateur star gazers with a backyard telescope a rare treat.
The asteroid 2004 BL86 is about a third of a mile in size and will come within approximately 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) of Earth on Jan. 26. NASA said it will be the closest any space rock comes to Earth until asteroid 1999 AN10 flies past in 2027.
Don't panic, though. The 2004 BL86 asteroid is expected to pass safely by Earth.
The asteroid - which won't come this close again for 200 years - may be seen by amateur astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere with small telescopes or even binoculars. NASA and several other websites, including the Slooh Community Observatory, are also going to webcast the event live.
NASA's Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will attempt to acquire science data and radar-generated images of the asteroid during the days surrounding its closest approach to Earth.
The asteroid - which won't come this close again for 200 years - may also be seen by amateur astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere with small telescopes or even binoculars.
Asteroid 2004 BL86 was initially discovered on Jan. 30, 2004 by a telescope of the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey in White Sands, New Mexico. While 2004 BL86 is getting plenty of attention, it is only the latest space rock to make a run at Earth. In September, 20214 RC (R-C) came within 25,000 miles.