Asteroid 1999 FN53 Makes Close, but Not TOO Close Approach to Earth on May 14, 2015


The small asteroid called 1999 FN53 makes a close approach to Earth on May 14, 2015, passing within about 6.3 million miles of Earth or about 26x the Earth-Moon distance. That’s close in cosmic terms but far enough from Earth to remain completely harmless. There is no chance this mile-wide body will impact Earth now or in the foreseeable future.

This tiny space rock was discovered in 1999 at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. While most asteroids orbit the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, 1999 FN53 is a so-called Apollo asteroid which means it orbits the Sun at about the same distance as Earth, though in a very different orbital path. Some Apollo asteroids may pose a risk of getting too close to Earth. That’s why NASA monitors them closely. The orbit of 1999 FN53 is well known and predictable, and the asteroid is not even listed on NASA’s list of potentially dangerous solar system objects.

Passages of asteroids by the Earth happen quite frequently. Earlier this year, another Apollo asteroid called 2004 BL86 passed within 750,000 miles of Earth (about 3.1x the Earth-Moon distance). Slooh covered this event live and you can see a replay of our coverage here.

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