Sunday, 4 May 2014

Asteroid 2014 HL2 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 HL2 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 3 372 000 km (a little less than nine times the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly after 10.05 pm GMT on Monday 28 April 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, and even if it had done so it would have presented little risk. 2014 HL2 is calculated to have an equivalent diameter of 11-34 m (which is to say a spherical object with the same volume would have a diameter of 11-34 m), and an object of this size would be predicted to break up in the Earth's atmosphere between 30 km and 10 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

The calculated orbit of 2014 HL2. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

2014 HL2 was discovered on 20 April 2014 (eight days before its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, which is located in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. The designation 2014 HL2 implies that it was the 62nd asteroid (asteroid L2) discovered in the second half of April 2014 (period 2014 H).

2014 HL2 has a 1091 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit  that takes it from 0.93 AU from the Sun (i.e. 93% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 3.21 AU from the Sun (i.e. 321% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, more than double 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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