Yesterday, an asteroid the size of a bus came shockingly close to Earth. In case you missed it, at 7:27 p.m. EST an asteroid called 2023 BU practically skimmed our planet as it whizzed by the southern tip of South America. Flying just 2,200 miles overhead, NASA stated that it was one of the “closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded.”
Shockingly, scientists were only made aware of 2023 BU's existence last week thanks to the work of amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov. Borisov, who is based in Crimea, has discovered several other comets and asteroids from his MARGO observatory in Nauchnyi. Once NASA was aware of his observations, they gathered more evidence and quickly concluded that the asteroid wouldn't make an impact with our planet. And, even if it had, given 2023 BU's small size—roughly 11.5 to 28 feet across—it would have turned into a fireball and disintegrated into the atmosphere.
So while the asteroid didn't impact us, its close approach to Earth certainly affected it. Before coming into close contact with Earth, the asteroid's orbit around the Sun was circular and took 359 days to complete. Now, after coming into contact with Earth's gravitational pull, 2023 BU's orbit is quite different. It will now take 425 days to orbit the Sun after its trajectory was elongated. Now, at its farthest point from the Sun, it will sit halfway between Earth and Mars.
Though 2023 BU is much smaller than other asteroids that have passed by recently, its close encounter with Earth has made it quite intriguing. Several organizations even live-streamed the event and tracked the asteroid, which looked like a small pebble, as it whizzed along its path.
Last week, an amateur astronomer discovered an asteroid set to pass very close to Earth.
Here's what today's Close Approach looks like:
🟡In yellow, our numerous geostationary satellites
🔴In red, the path of Asteroid 2023 BU
🌎Earth in the middle, with LEO satellites also shown.
— CCNY Planetarium (@CCNYPlanetarium) January 26, 2023
The asteroid, named 2023 BU, was the size of a bus and whizzed by the southern tip of South America.
WOW, we did it! Here it is asteroid #2023BU around the time of its flyby, perfectly captured by our robotic facility. Our live feed was a tremendous success, thanks to all! @masi_gianluca #virtualtelescope
👉🔭more: https://t.co/7ioifRqeEP pic.twitter.com/kGw8LKhmy0
— Virtual Telescope (@VirtualTelescop) January 27, 2023