Rare astronomical event: Two large asteroids pass Earth just 42 hours apart. When this happens

Two large asteroids will fly past Earth this week, a rare event perfectly timed with this year’s Asteroid Day celebration.

Asteroid 2024 MK will fly by Earth. ESA photo

Neither of the two celestial bodies poses any risk to our planet, but one of them was discovered just a week ago, and, experts say, this means we need to improve our ability to detect potentially dangerous objects in our cosmic neighborhood. .

The asteroid discovered on June 16, 2024 has been named 2024 MK, it is between 120 and 260 m in size and will fly by the Earth on June 29, the day it is celebrated as Asteroid Day, according to Phys.org.

For a near-Earth object (NEO), 2024 MK is large and will pass less than 290,000 km from the Earth’s surface, about 75% of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

“There is no risk of 2024 MK hitting Earth. However, an asteroid of this size would cause considerable damage if it were to impact, so its discovery just a week before it will fly past our planet highlights the continued need to improve the ability to detect and monitor near-Earth objects (NEO) potentially dangerous”, said specialists from the European Space Agency (ESA).

Because of its size and the fact that it passes relatively close to Earth, 2024 MK will be visible on June 29 in clear skies with a small telescope or binoculars.

The second asteroid identified by experts and named (415029) 2011 UL21 is even bigger. With a diameter of 2,310 m, this asteroid is larger than 99% of all known near-Earth objects. However, it will not come nearly as close to Earth. At its closest point on June 27, it will be 17 times farther than the Moon.

Data on Asteroid (415029) 2011 UL21.  ESA photo

Data on Asteroid (415029) 2011 UL21. ESA photo

This asteroid’s orbit around the Sun is highly inclined, which is unusual for such a large object, given that most large objects in the Solar System, including planets and asteroids, orbit the Sun in or near the equatorial plane.

The unusual orbit of this asteroid could be the result of gravitational interactions with a large planet like Jupiter. Jupiter can deflect asteroids that were previously safe to Earth, so understanding this process is important.

Asteroid Day 2024

The impact craters that mark the Earth’s surface are evidence of how asteroids have influenced the history and development of our planet.

Asteroid Day, approved by the UN, commemorates the most powerful asteroid strike known and recorded, the 1908 aerial explosion over the largely deserted Siberian city of Tunguska, which felled an estimated 80 million trees.