AST

Discovered on April 23rd by NASA’s Wide­Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), Near Earth ­Asteroid 2014 HQ124, now nicknamed “The Beast”, with an estimated diameter of up to three Nimitz­ class aircraft carriers (400m-900m or .25 miles-.56 miles) and traveling at approximately 31,000 MPH (14 km/s), will race by Earth this week at a worrisome three lunar distances away.

Slooh will cover The Beast live on Thursday, June 5th starting at 11:30 AM PDT / 2:30 PM EDT / 18:30 UTC ­ International Times: http://goo.gl/0iYDxR . Slooh will broadcast the event live from Australia, featuring time lapse imagery from Slooh’s robotic observatory in Chile.

Viewers can watch the live asteroid broadcast free on Slooh.com. The image stream will be accompanied by discussions led by Slooh host, Geoff Fox, Slooh astronomer, Bob Berman, and Slooh friend, Dr. Mark Boslough, an expert on planetary impacts and global catastrophes and frequent participant on many science TV documentaries. Viewers can follow updates on the show by using the hashtag #Sloohbeast.

Slooh routinely tracks potentially hazardous objects for the general public to view live (both asteroids and comets) whose sizes are large enough, and whose orbits take them near enough to our planet, that they have the potential to cause significant damage in the event of an impact. Slooh’s live broadcasts have attracted millions of viewers, and Slooh has become a leading voice to help ensure that public awareness does not wane.

Just recently, Slooh announced a partnership with NASA, as part of the Asteroid Grand Challenge, to engage citizen scientists to track and characterize near­Earth asteroids using Slooh’s network of observatories. As members of Slooh, citizen scientists have the unique opportunity to access professional telescope equipment at world class sites to be able to participate in the global challenge to find all asteroids hazardous to human populations.

NEA 2014 HQ124 is an eye­opening reminder of the potential dangers of asteroid impacts and the importance of acquiring and tracking asteroid orbits. It’s estimated that while 90 percent of the 1000­metre plus sized asteroids have been discovered, only 30% of the 140­ metre sized NEAs have been found, with less than 1 percent of the 30­ metre sized NEAs having been detected. Even a 30­ metre sized asteroid can cause significant damage to a major city.

Says Berman, “It is interesting timing ­­ that an asteroid this large should come this close to Earth, just as SLOOH and NASA have announced their cooperative venture at finding and characterizing such potentially hazardous objects. What’s disconcerting is that a rocky/metallic body this large, and coming so very close, should have only first been discovered this soon before its nearest approach. HQ124 is at least ten times bigger, and possibly 20 times, than the asteroid that injured a thousand people last year in Chelyabinsk, Siberia. If it were impact us, the energy released would be measured not in kilotons like the atomic bombs that ended World War Two, but in H­Bomb type megatons. It will be interesting indeed to watch SLOOH track and image this substantial intruder as it passes less than a million miles of us, at a speed 17 times greater than that of a high speed rifle bullet.”