Asteroid 2016 VA gives Earth a very close shave

Asteroid 2016 VA gives Earth a very close shave

Just hours after being spotted by astronomers for the first time, a small asteroid dubbed Asteroid 2016 VA gave out planet a very close shave at 8:32 p.m. EDT (0032 GMT) on 2nd of November.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Minor Planet Center (MPC) said in a statement that the Asteroid 2016 VA zoomed within 48,000 miles or 77,000 kilometers of Earth. To put that into perspective, the Moon is orbiting our planet at a distance of 239,000 miles or 385,000 kilometers.

The asteroid, which is believed to be 23 to 72 feet in width, was traveling at a speed of around 48,000 mile per hour during the close encounter.

The Virtual Telescope Project, a volunteer-run website that hosts real-time feeds from a number of robotic telescopes, captured footage of the asteroid during the Earth eclipse. It said in a statement, “To our knowledge, this is the first video ever of a complete eclipse of an asteroid.”

The asteroid takes 10.5 months to complete an orbit of the Sun, on a path that is believed to be much more elliptical than that of Earth. It gets as close to our host star as 0.43 astronomical units and goes as far away as 1.4 astronomical units. One astronomical unit is the average distance between Earth and the Sun.

Surprise asteroid encounters are not as uncommon as many may believe because millions of space rocks orbit the Sun in Earth’s vicinity. However, only 15,000 of them are known to scientists.



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