NASA boss Bill Nelson writes on Twitter that probably never before has an asteroid been recorded that came as close to the earth as 2023 BU. According to experts from the “Planetary Defense” of the US space agency, who had predicted the trajectory of the asteroid, there was no danger to people on Earth.
Asteroid 2023 BU is about the size of a pickup truck.
On Thursday, the small near-Earth asteroid 2023 BU flew past the southern tip of South America at a distance of “only” 3,540 kilometers above the earth’s surface.
Closer to Earth than many satellites
It was thus – also over Europe – closer to the earth than many satellites orbiting our planet.
Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi has with the “virtual telescope” 2023 BU recorded the asteroid over Italy. He explains that the telescope tracks the asteroid’s very rapid apparent motion, which is why stars appear like long trails while the asteroid is a bright, sharp point of light.
Masi also created a video from the pictures.
Had the asteroid, estimated to be 3.5 to 8.5 meters in diameter, headed for Earth, it would have turned into a fireball as it entered the atmosphere and would have disintegrated. The remaining debris would have fallen to the ground as small meteorites, according to US space agency experts.
At the end of September, NASA changed the trajectory of an asteroid with its Dart mission.
Amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov has according to CNN observed asteroid 2023 BU on Saturday, January 21 from the MARGO observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea. Borisov previously discovered the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov in 2019.
Earth has changed the orbit of the asteroid
Earth’s gravity changes the trajectory of asteroids, but 2023 BU got so close that its orbit around the sun changed after the encounter.
Before passing Earth, the asteroid had a circular orbit that took about 359 days to complete one orbit around the sun. Now astronomers estimate that the asteroid’s orbit has lengthened so that its orbit around the sun now takes 425 days.
In a YouTube video, the British IT engineer Adam Hibberd shows – just for fun – how Asteroid 2023 BU saw the earth as it passed.