Thursday 27 January 2022

Asteroid 2022 BN passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2022 BN passed by the Earth at a distance of about 92 750 km (0.24 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 0.06% of the distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly before 2.15 pm GMT on Sunday 23 January 2022. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would not have presented a significant threat. 2022 BN has an estimated equivalent diameter of 4-12 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 4-12 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) between 43 and 30 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

The relative positions of 2022 BN and the Earth on at 2.00 pm on 23 January 2022. JPL Small Body Database.

2022 BN was discovered on 23 January 2022 (the day of its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Szeged's Szeged Asteroid Program, which is located at the Piszkéstető Mountain Station in the Mátra Mountains to the northeast of Budapest. The designation 2022 BN implies that it was the 13th asteroid (object N - in numbering asteroids the letters A-Y, excluding I, are assigned numbers from 1 to 25, with a number added to the end each time the alphabet is ended so that A = 1, A1 = 26, A2 = 51, etc., which means that N implies the 13th asteroid) discovered in the second half of January 2022 (period 2022 B - the year being split into 24 half-months represented by the letters A-Y, with I being excluded).

The orbit and current position of 2022 BN. The Sky Live 3D Solar System Simulator.

2022 BN has a 872 day (2.39 year) orbital period, with an elliptical orbit tilted at an angle of 2.74° to the plain of the Solar System which takes in to 0.75 AU from the Sun (75% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) and out to 2.82 AU (282% of the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, and more than 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). This means that Asteroid 2022 BN has occasional close encounters with the Earth, with the most recent having happened in August 2014, and the next predicted for August 2029. The asteroid also has occasional close encounters with the planet Venus, with the last thought to have happened in December 2021.

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