Despite some cloud coverage Monday night, many amateur astronomers in West Texas will be looking for a passing asteroid.
Using telescopes – and even just strong binoculars – tonight astronomers will be focusing their lenses on Asteroid 2004 BL86. The large asteroid – thought to be about a half-mile wide – is passing by Earth today at a distance of less than 750,000 miles.
Relatively speaking, that’s very large asteroid and a very close fly-by of planet Earth. In fact, it will be the largest asteroid expected to pass this close until 2027.
Dr. Judit Gyorgyey Ries is a professional astronomer who studies asteroids at the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis. Ironically, she won’t be observing it on the 82-inch telescope. But other astronomers have been gathering data all day with different instruments.
In the attached audio report, she tells Tom Michael where and when to see the asteroid, and how astronomers are reacting to the asteroid’s close pass.