Friday, 22 November 2013

Asteroid 2013 VX4 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2013 VX4 passed the Earth at a distance of 5 537 000 km (roughly 14.4 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon) slightly before 7.25 am on Wednesday 13 November 2013. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were this not the case it would have presented a minor threat. 2013 VX4 is estimated to be between 34 and 110 m in diameter, and an object towards the upper end of this range could potentially punch straight through the Earth's atmosphere, and impact the planet's surface, leaving a crater over a kilometer in diameter and causing devastation over a wide area as well as global climatic effects that could last for several years.

The calculated orbit of 2013 VX4. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2013 VX4 was discovered on 4 November 2013 by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2013 VX4 implies that it was the 123rd asteroid discovered in the first half of November 2013 (period 2013 V).

2013 VX4 has a 918 day orbital period and an eliptical orbit that takes it from 0.98 AU from the Sun (i.e. 98% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun) to 2.72 AU from the Sun (i.e. 272% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably outside the orbit of Mars). It is therefore classed as an Apollo Group Asteroid (an asteroid that is on average further from the Sun than the Earth, but which does get closer).

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