Monday, 18 November 2013

Asteroid 6063 Jason (1984 KB) passes the Earth.

Asteroid 6063 Jason (1984 KB) passed the Earth at a distance of 11 820 000 km (slightly under 31 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon) at about 1.05 pm GMT on Monday 11 November 2013. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, however were it to do so then 6063 Jason (1984 KB) would present a considerable threat, as it is estimated to be between 1.3 and 4.1 km in diameter, and such an object would easily punch through the Earth's atmosphere, impacting directly with the planet's surface, which would result in a crater tens of kilometers in diameter and potentially devastating effects on a global scale.

The calculated orbit of 6063 Jason (1984 KB). JPL Small Body Database Browser.

6063 Jason (1984 KB) was discovered on 27 May 1984 by Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker, then working at the Palomar Observatory in north San Diego County, California. The number 6063 implies that it was the 6063rd asteroid discovered, the name Jason was given by its discoverers (astronomers that discover asteroids have the privilege of naming them, however in the 21st century most such discoveries are made by automated telescopes and typically over a thousand new asteroids are discovered each month, so this right is now seldom exercised), and the designation 1984 KB implies that it was the second asteroid discovered in the second half of May 1984 (period 1984 K).

6063 Jason (1984 KB) has a 3.29 year orbital period and an eccentric orbit that takes it from 0.52 AU from the Sun (i.e. 52% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably inside the orbit of Venus) to 3.91 AU from the Sun (i.e. 391% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably over twice the distance at which Mars orbits the Sun). 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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