AM31 Asteroid – It’s the size of a city block, and the asteroid was one of the 2012 Doomsday predictions, but AM31 2002 is no threat to Earth as it zooms by. The space rock is estimated to be 2,000 to 4,500ft wide, and qualifies as a “near Earth object.” Astronomers say not to panic because it will pass through space 14 times further from Earth than the Moon.
Already this year we’ve had at least three encounters with space rocks. In January, Asteroid BX34 2012 skimmed Earth’s orbit before 2012 Da14 asteroid zoomed even closer during it’s pass by in March. The 2012 EG5 Asteroid dazzled astronomers in April.
The space rock will be tracked live by cameras on Earth and in space.
Astronomy magazine’s Bob Berman says, “Near Earth objects are no longer treasures only for the paranoid, or for those who secretly and strangely are rooting for an early apocalypse,” Bob Berman, Astronomy magazine, said in a statement. “The entire astronomical community has reversed its thinking about them over the past few decade,” he added.
Asteroid AM31 was discovered in 2002 and is already being tracked by radar by astronomers at NASA’s deep-space radio antenna in Goldstone, Calif., and at the Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico for its weekend flyby.
A July 12 look at the asteroid by the Arecibo observatory radar suggests the asteroid is about 1,115 feet wide, according to a Goldstone radar observation planning update. But a notice from NASA’s Asteroid Watch program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., estimates that the asteroid is more than twice that size, with a diameter of about 2,600 feet.
Sunday’s webcasts are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EDT (2330 UT) and 11 p.m. EDT (0300 July 23) GMT). They can be accessed at the Slooh website: http:///www.slooh.com
“Near-Earth asteroid 153958 (2002 AM31) represents one of approximately 9,000 whizzing past Earth at any given moment and we wanted to highlight this one as it’s only 13.7 lunar distances from Earth and well over one city block big — similar to near-Earth asteroid LZ1 which zoomed past us unexpectedly mid-June,” Slooh Space Camera president Patrick Paolucci told SPACE.com.