Asteroid 230-foot Moon : WOW Asteroid That Flew Past Earth Has Moon – Watch

Asteroid 230-foot Moon : WOW Asteroid That Flew Past Earth Has Moon - Watch

The 230-foot wide moon trailed behind asteroid 2004 BL86, and NASA scientists captured images as it passed. The asteroid and its companion were too far away to pose a threat, flying about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth. But it will still be the largest asteroid known to pass this close to the earth until 2027, when an asteroid called 1999 AN10 is expected to arrive.

Observers on the ground didn’t see much when the asteroid was closest to Earth Monday morning, because it wasn’t at its brightest. Only a portion of its illuminated side was visible, according to Sky & Telescope magazine. The asteroid brightened as it got farther from the Earth because its face became more fully illuminated, the magazine said.

The best chance for viewing was from 8 p.m. ET Monday to 1 a.m. ET Tuesday.

NASA scientists snapped radar-generated images of the asteroid using the Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

“While it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it’s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more,” Don Yeomans, the recently retired manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a NASA news release.

Yeomans retired on January 9 after 16 years of tracking asteroids. Paul Chodas has been designated as the new manager.

“We should be getting some great radar images of this asteroid,” Chodas told CNN before the asteroid passed. “Radar would be the key to study the asteroid’s surface, give an idea of its shape, whether it has rocks and that kind of stuff on it. It’ll be really exciting.”

Observers without binoculars or a scope watched from their computers on The Virtual Telescope Project 2.0.

The asteroid was discovered on January 30, 2004, by a telescope of the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research survey in White Sands, New Mexico.