BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 19 August, 2002, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Asteroid fly-by visible from Earth
Courtesy Nick James
The asteroid is the single point of light in the centre
Stargazers have had a rare glimpse of an asteroid passing the Earth.

The close encounter could be viewed with binoculars or a small telescope, but thin cloud in many parts of Europe obscured the view for many astronomers.

The space rock, 800 metres (half a mile) across and designated 2002 NY40, made its closest approach to the Earth on Sunday before heading off in the direction of the Sun.

Skywatchers get such a close-up view of an asteroid occurs only once every half-century.

The nearest the asteroid came was within 530,000 kilometres (330,000 miles) of the Earth - slightly further away than the Moon.

Its track in the sky passed close by the bright star Vega and through the constellation of Hercules.

It was significantly dimmer than even the faintest star visible with the naked eye and experts say that even in excellent conditions it would have required a degree of skill and experience to see.

European skywatchers caught their best glimpse in the early hours of Sunday. For viewing from North America, the best time to watch was on Saturday evening.

Collision risk

Scientists will use the close approach to plot the course of the asteroid over the years to come.

They say there is a minute risk - one in 500,000 - that the rock could strike Earth in 2022, but the new measurements could show it will definitely miss us.

The asteroid fly-by follows last month's reports of another, bigger, rock, called 2002 NT7, which scientists speculated might be a candidate for colliding with the Earth in 2019.

Further data revealed, however, that there was no chance of this happening.

See also:

01 Aug 02 | Science/Nature
29 Jul 02 | Sci Tech
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes