In a slow-moving universe, asteroids give us a uncommon probability to see issues transferring in actual time. Now we have such an opportunity coming proper up on the night of Tuesday, January 18th, when 1.1-kilometer asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 passes 1.23 million miles (1.98 million kilometers) from Earth.
Fortuitously, each Earth and stated area telescope are protected from the asteroid on this cross, and can stay so for hundreds of years into the foreseeable future. The asteroid was found on the evening of August ninth, 1994 by astronomer Robert McNaught observing from the Siding Spring Observatory.
The Apollo asteroid is an Earth-crosser, with a perihelion inside to our personal at 0.9 Astronomical Items (AU) from the Solar, and an aphelion out within the asteroid belt at 1.8 AU, with an orbital interval of 572 days. It is orbital inclination of 33.5 levels relative to the ecliptic makes it cross removed from Earth on most years.
Close to-Earth #asteroid 1994 PC1 (~1 km large) could be very well-known and has been studied for many years by our #PlanetaryDefense consultants. Relaxation assured, 1994 PC1 will safely fly previous our planet 1.2 million miles away subsequent Tues., Jan. 18.
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) January 12, 2022
Enjoyable truth: wanting again by way of sky plates, 1994 PC1 truly turns up in photographs all the way in which again to 1974.
1994 PC1 is a S-class stony-type asteroid, and is just barely bigger than one other well-known NEO asteroid, 101955 Bennu, the goal of NASA’s Osiris-Rex pattern return mission, which returns to Earth with its valuable cargo late subsequent 12 months.
This week’s cross is the closest for the asteroid since January 17, 1933 (pre-discovery) at 0.00752 AU, and the closest for the subsequent two centuries, though the cross on January 18, 2105 is sort of as shut, at 0.01556 AU.
Looking the Asteroid
This week’s shut strategy provides observers an opportunity to see the asteroid for themselves.
At its closest on the evening of January 18th at 21:51 Common Time (UT), 1994 PC1 will probably be straddling on the Cetus/Pisces border and transferring at a blistering 2 levels an hour (spanning a bit of sky 4 occasions the scale of tonight’s Full Moon, per hour) or 2 arc minutes a minute.
That is quick sufficient to see the movement of the speedy asteroid versus the starry background after watching it on the eyepiece for only a minute or two. At its brightest, 1994 PC1 ought to flirt with magnitude +9 or so, making it simply seen with a small telescope or maybe, binoculars.
I keep in mind the fun of seeing asteroid 4179 Toutatis on its shut cross in 2004. That passage was similar to this week’s, watching because the area rock silently crept throughout the starry background.
The excellent news is, you can begin attempting to find 1994 PC1 tonight: the asteroid remains to be a good +twelfth magnitude plus on both night earlier than or after closest strategy, January seventeenth or January nineteenth. Additionally, in contrast to nearer passes, parallax versus observer location will not play an excessive amount of of an element within the asteroid’s true place within the sky.
To catch it, you will want a telescope able to exactly pointing at coordinates in proper ascension and declination. You may get these ephemerides to your time and site by inputting ‘1994 PC1’ at NASA/JPL Horizons website.
The evening of Monday, January seventeenth finds asteroid 1994 PC1 low to the south at nightfall on the border of the southern hemisphere constellations of Fornax and Eridanus. Powerful, although not an unimaginable goal for North American observers.
The important thing evening of Tuesday, January 18th sees the asteroid making its closest cross by Earth for this century. Standing on the floor of the asteroid Tuesday evening, you’d see the Earth as a 22′ half-full disk, barely smaller than a full moon.
Although the exact time of closest strategy favors Africa and European longitudes, North America additionally will get a very good have a look at nightfall. One other good strategy to monitoring the asteroid is to know when it’ll cross close to a vivid star, stake out the place, and watch on the acceptable time.
As soon as such alternative happens within the hours round 21:05 UT Tuesday evening, when 1994 PC1 passes 43′ from the +3.8 magnitude star Alrescha (Alpha Piscium).
Wednesday evening January nineteenth sees the asteroid a lot farther north within the constellation Andromeda. Although now virtually 1.7 million miles distant, Wednesday additionally has the benefit of providing a slim window for viewing after twilight ends, and earlier than the waning gibbous Moon rises.
Clouded out? Astronomer Gianluca Masi and the Digital Telescope Undertaking has you coated, with a dwell webcast following 1994 PC1 beginning at 20:00 UT on the 18th.
Fortunately, asteroid 1994 PC1 will not supply us the identical doomsday situation because the current comedy Do not Look Up… merely a very good present. Good luck and clear skies in your quest to identify asteroid 1994 PC1.