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Flying Bye Bye

12 January 2019

On January 8th asteroid 2019AS5 flew past the Earth – just 8600km above the surface. Nine hours afterwards, the asteroid was discovered, by the Mount Lemmon Survey telescope in Arizona. At http://spaceweather.com (11th January 2019) we learn the space rock was just 2m wide – hardly what one might call an asteroid. More like a meteor. Indeed, if it had entered the atmosphere it would have disintegrated somewhat like the Chelyabinsk meteor of 2013. What is more interesting is that astronomers are thinking that Earth's gravity significantly bent the space rock's orbit during fly by. To illustrate the effect the Minor Planet Center in the US has created an interactive 3D diagram of the encounter – which flings the space rock away from our planet. It is of course a simulation and not the real thing.

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