Monday 13 January 2014

Asteroid 2014 AY32 passes the Earth before being discovered.

Asteroid 2014 AY32 passed by the Earth at a distance of 4 478 000 km (over 11.54 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon) slightly before 8.00 am on Monday 6 January 2013. There was no danger of the asteroid  hitting us, and had it done so it would have been highly unlikely to have caused any harm. 2013 AY32 is estimated to be between 9 and 28 m in diameter, and such an object would be expected to break up in the Earth's atmosphere between 35 and 17 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the planet's surface.

The calculated orbit of 2014 AY32. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 AY32 was discovered on 7 January 2013 by the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon Survey at the Steward Observatory on Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2014 AY32 implies that the asteroid was the 824th object discovered in the first half  of January 2014 (period 2014 A).

2014 AY32 has a 3.47 year orbital period and an eccentric orbit that takes it from 0.99 AU from the Sun (i.e. 99% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 3.59 AU from the Sun (i.e. 359% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably more than twice the distance at which the planet 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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