Asteroid 2014 JO25 ‘The Rock’ safely passes Earth


The big asteroid that safely swept past Earth on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, night India time, is larger than expected as per the astronomers. The asteroid safely passed the Blue Marble at some 1,768,239 km (1,098,733 miles) distance or about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon. The asteroid 2014 JO25 has been nicknamed ‘the rock’.

Astronomers with the aid of the powerful radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico,were able to ping asteroid 2014 JO25 to obtain radar images of the approaching space rock.  They found 2014 JO25 is a contact binary asteroid - two space rocks that were originally separate bodies - and each segment is about 640 meters and 670 meters (2100 to 2200 feet) to total 1.3 km approximately.  It also spins around every 3.5 hours.

The 2017 flyby is the closest by an asteroid this large since the encounter by 4179 Toutatis at 4 lunar distances in September 2004. The next known flyby by an object of comparable size will be the 800-meter-diameter asteroid 1999 AN10 approach within one lunar distance in August 2027.

So why is the asteroid 2014 JO25 nicknamed ‘the rock’?  The straight obvious connection is with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.  But the real reason is that initially, the asteroid was described as the size of the Rock of Gibraltar. So the rock nickname stuck.  Shame since this asteroid has not come this close to earth in 400 years and will not do so until 2500 CE.

Last time we had an asteroid near miss was on 15 February 2013, when the much much smaller, 30 meter diameter 2012 DA14 whizzed by at just 30,000 km distance from earth.  Google initially released a Doodle, but withdrew it when a meteorite stuck in Russia and caused causalities on the same day.  Since there has been no such misfortune yesterday (or today), here is the Doodle, modified of course by me, for your fun.

Have a safe upcoming weekend.

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