Saturday, 5 July 2014

Asteroid 1994 CJ1 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 1994 CJ1 passed by the Earth at a distance of about 13 570 000 km (35.29 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon), slightly before 2.20 am GMT on Saturday 28 June 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though were it to do so it would have presented a genuine threat. 1994 CJ1 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 99-310 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 99-310 m in diameter), and an object towards the upper end of this range would be predicted to be capable of passing through the Earth's atmosphere relatively intact, impacting the ground with an energy equivalent to about 1200 megatons of TNT (roughly 70 600 times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb). Such an event would result in a crater about 4.5 km across, cause devastation over a wide area around the impact site and would have the potential to affect the climate globally for several decades.

The calculated orbit of 1994 CJ1. JPL Small Body Database Browser.

1994 CJ1 was discovered on 2 October 1994 by the University of Arizona's Kitt Peak-Spacewatch Project at the Steward Observatory in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson.. The designation 1994 MY implies that it was the 34th asteroid (asteroid J1) discovered in the first half of October 1994 (period 1994 C).

1994 CJ1 has a 664 day year orbital period and an eccentric orbit that takes it from 1.00 AU from the Sun (i.e. the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun) to 1.97 AU from the Sun (i.e. 197% of the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, outside the orbit of Mars). It is therefore classed as an Apollo Group Asteroid (an asteroid that is on average further from the Sun than the Earth, but which does get closer). This means that close encounters between the asteroid and Earth are fairly common, with the last thought to have happened in August 2005 and the next predicted in March 2025. As an asteroid on an Earth-orbit crossing trajectory which is large enough to cause serious harm should it collide with Earth it is also classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.

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