Sunday, 4 November 2018

Asteroid 2018 VC passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2018 VC passed by the Earth at a distance of about 552 300 km (1.44 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 0.37% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly after 9.50 pm GMT on Sunday 28 October 2018. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would not have presented a significant threat. 2018 VC has an estimated equivalent diameter of 9-30 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 9-30 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to explode in an airburst (an explosion caused by superheating from friction with the Earth's atmosphere, which is greater than that caused by simply falling, due to the orbital momentum of the asteroid) in the atmosphere between 33 and 16 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

The calculated orbit of 2018 VC. Minor Planet Center.

2018 VC was discovered on 1 November 2018 (four days after its closest approach to the Earth) 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 2018 VC implies that the asteroid was the third object (object C) discovered in the first half of November 2018 (period 2018 V). 

2018 VC has an 437 day orbital period and an eccentric orbit tilted at an angle of 3.70° to the plane of the Solar System, which takes it from 0.94 AU from the Sun (i.e. 94% of he average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 1.32 AU from the Sun (i.e. 132% of the average distance at which the Earth 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). As such the asteroid has occasional close encounters with the planet Earth, which it last came close to in April 2010, and is expected to do so again in June 2024.

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