Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Asteroid 2014 WM365 passes the Earth.

Asteroid 2014 WM365 passed by the Earth at a distance of 8 165 000 km (21.26 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 5.4 % of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), slightly after 12.25 pm GMT on Tuesday 16 December 2014. There was no danger of the asteroid hitting us, though had it done so it would have presented only a minor threat. 2014 WM365 has an estimated equivalent diameter of 14-45 m (i.e. it is estimated that a spherical object with the same volume would be 14-45 m in diameter), and an object of this size would be expected to break up in the atmosphere between 27 and 10 km above the ground, with only fragmentary material reaching the Earth's surface.

The calculated orbit of 2014 WM365. JPL Small Body Database Browser.
 2014 WM365 was discovered on 27 November 2014 (nineteen days before its closest approach to the Earth) by the University of Hawaii's PANSTARRS telescope on Mount Haleakala on Maui. The designation 2014 WM365 implies that it was the 9137th asteroid (asteroid M365) discovered in the second half of November 2014 (period 2014 W).

While 2014 WM365 occasionally comes near to the Earth, it does not actually cross our orbital path. It has an elliptical 868 day orbit, at an angle of 5.4° to the plane of the Solar System, that takes it from 1.03 AU from the Sun (1.03 times the average distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun), slightly outside our orbit, to 2.53 AU from the Sun, (2.53 times the distance at which the Earth orbits the Sun, and considerably more than the distance at which the planet Mars orbits the Sun). As a Near Earth Object that remains strictly outside the orbit of the Earth it is classed as an Amor Family Asteroid. This means that close encounters between the asteroid and Earth are fairly common, with the next predicted in November 2147.

See also...

 Asteroid 2014 WD497 passed by the Earth at a distance of 6 144 000 km (15.95 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 4.1 % of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun)...

Asteroid 2014 WY365 passed by the Earth at a distance of 3 381 000 km (8.81 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 2.3 % of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun)...
Asteroid 2014 WY201 passed by the Earth at a distance of 8 856 000 km (23 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon, or 5.9 % of the average distance between the Earth and the Sun)...


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