Asteroid 2063 Bacchus Makes Close Approach to Earth on April 7, 2015


The near-Earth asteroid 2063 Bacchus makes its closest approach to Earth on April 7, 2015 at 19:13 UT. Bacchus is an Apollo asteroid, a class of objects that occasionally cross the orbital path of Earth. This makes them rather interesting to astronomers who monitor Apollos and other near-Earth asteroids for possibilities of collision with Earth. Bacchus, which also crosses the orbital paths of Mars and Venus, poses no danger to any major planet, including Earth, on this near approach or in the future.

Discovered in 1977 at Palomar Observatory, 2063 Bacchus is also cataloged as 1977HB. It moves around the Sun in an elliptical orbit every 1.12 years during which its distance to the Sun ranges from about 0.7 AU to 1.45 AU. Radar observations show Bacchus is a bi-lobed asteroid with dimensions of about 2.6 km x 1.1 km x 1.1 km. It’s not a large object, but it’s big enough to image with telescopes of moderate size when it comes near.

On March 31, 1996, Bacchus came within about 6.3 million miles of Earth (about 26x the Earth-Moon distance). On the April 7, 2015 approach, the asteroid will come within 18 million miles or 76 Earth-Moon distances of Earth and brighten to about magnitude 16.2.

This will be the closest approach of this Apollo asteroid until 2024.


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