KEY POINTS

  • Two near-Earth objects will approach Earth tomorrow
  • The approach asteroids have Earth-intersecting orbits
  • The asteroids will not cause impact events on Earth

NASA’s automated tracking system has spotted two asteroids that are currently headed for Earth. According to the agency’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the approaching asteroids have natural orbits that cross Earth’s path.

The first asteroid that will approach the planet tomorrow has been identified as 2020 BJ7. As indicated in CNEOS’ database, this asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 43 feet. It is currently flying towards Earth at an incredible speed of about 45,000 miles per hour.

The second asteroid that’s expected to visit Earth’s neighborhood tomorrow is called 2020 BG9. Although this asteroid is not as fast as 2020 BJ7, it is certainly bigger. According to CNEOS, 2020 BG9 measures almost 100 feet wide. The agency noted that it is flying across space at an average velocity of nearly 23,000 miles per hour.

Both 2020 BJ7 and 2020 BG9 are known as Apollo asteroids, which means they have very wide orbits that pass near other planets in the Solar System. Like other Apollo asteroids, 2020 BJ7 and 2020 BG9’s orbits intersect with the trajectory of Earth as it travels around the Sun.

Given the sizes of the two asteroids, these two will most likely not cause impact events on the ground if they hit Earth during their near-intersection approaches. Instead of creating a crater following a collision, these two asteroids will most likely end up exploding in the atmosphere.

According to CNEOS, 2020 BJ7’s near-Earth approach will take place on Jan. 28 at 2:59 a.m. EST. During this time, the asteroid will be about 0.00318 astronomical units from the planet’s center, which is equivalent to a distance of almost 300,000 miles.

2020 BG9, on the other hand, is expected to reach its closest distance to Earth on Jan. 28 at 4:38 p.m. EST. As it zips past the planet, it will approach Earth from a very safe distance of 0.03191 astronomical units or roughly 2.9 million miles away.

2020 BJ7 is not expected to return to Earth’s neighborhood until 2054. As for 2020 BG9, this asteroid’s near-Earth intersection is expected to happen in 2027.

asteroids_passing_earth Pictured; an artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth. Photo: NASA