Friday, 17 January 2014

Asteroid 2014 AZ32 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 AZ32 passed the Earth at a distance of 2 391 000 km (roughly 6.22 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon) at slightly after 11.50 pm GMT on Saturday 11 January 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, and were it to have done so it would have presented no threat. 2014 AZ32 is calculated to be between 12 and 38 m in diameter, and an object of this size would be expected to break up in the Earth's atmosphere between 30 and 15 km above the planet's surface, with only fragmentary material reaching the ground.

The calculated orbit of 2014 AZ32. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 AZ32 was discovered on 9 January 2014 (three days before its closest pass of the Earth) by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2014 AZ32 implies that it was the 825th asteroid discovered in the first half of January 2014 (period 2014 A).

2014 AZ32 has an 964 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit that takes it from 0.98 AU from the Sun (i.e. 98% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 2.84 AU from the Sun (i.e. 2.84% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, considerably outside the orbit of the planet 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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