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Newly discovered football field-sized asteroid to pass by Earth on Monday

Artwork of a potentially-hazardous asteroid approaching the Earth.

Artwork of a potentially hazardous asteroid approaching the Earth. Image Credit: Jeff Darling

A newly detected football field-sized asteroid, designated 2017 RW1, is slated to miss our planet on Monday, September 25, 2017. The space rock, estimated to be 110–361 feet (34–110 meters) in diameter, is expected to fly by Earth at a distance of approximately 10.9 lunar distances (LD), or 4.19 million kilometers.

The Apollo-type 2017 RW1 asteroid was first spotted on September 12, 2017, by astronomers using the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) telescope at the summit of Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) is an astronomical survey consisting of astronomical cameras, telescopes, and a computing facility, surveying the sky for moving objects on a continual basis.

Astronomers reveal that 2017 RW1 has an absolute magnitude of 23.7. The asteroid will fly by Earth at exactly 13:29 UTC, with a velocity of about 12.68 km/s. The object orbits the Sun once every 2.1 years at a distance of approximately 1.64 AU – an astronomical unit (AU) is roughly equal to the Sun-Earth distance of 93 million miles (150 million kilometers).

No other future close approaches of 2017 RW1 to Earth are currently expected by astronomers.

Besides 2017 RW1, four other smaller asteroids are also expected to pass by our planet on September 25, namely 2017 RW2, 2017 RO16, 2017 SF2, and 2017 SP10.

2017 RW2 has a diameter between 16 and 52 meters, and it will miss the Earth at a distance of about 15 LD. With the size of approximately 10 meters, 2017 RO16 is the smallest object of the group of asteroids swooshing by the planet on Monday and will come as close as about 4.8 LD. When it comes to 2017 SF2, this near-Earth object (NEO) is 27–86 meters wide and will pass at a relatively large distance of 22.6 LD. Finally, 2017 SP10, which is estimated to be about 30 meters in size, will fly by Earth at a distance of 12.1 LD.

On September 22, there were 1,803 Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) detected and none of them is on a collision course with our planet. PHAs are asteroids larger than 100 meters that can come closer to Earth than 19.5 LD.

To date, astronomers have discovered 16,689 NEOs. Only this month, 79 such objects were detected.





Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.

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