Meteorite observer Erwin Späni, who runs an observation station in Wangen, is very excited. Only on January 21 did researchers have one new asteroid discoveredwhich will come very close to Earth on the night of Thursday, January 27th.
“At 00:26 UTC (1:26 CET) the asteroid 2023 BU will pass us at an altitude of only about 4,000 kilometers above the earth’s surface, which is very low from an astronomical point of view,” says Späni. “For comparison: the moon is about 300,000 kilometers away from the earth, the geostationary weather satellites of the Meteosat series are about 36,000 kilometers away.”
Only three other asteroids were closer
According to data collected by NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) between 1900 and 2020, asteroid 2023 BU is the fourth closest near-earth asteroid on record.
But it won’t be dangerous for us, assures Späni. “The asteroid is only between 4 to 8 meters in diameter, so it poses little threat even if it were to hit Earth.” Asteroids with a diameter of less than 25 meters would usually burn up in the earth’s atmosphere.
The asteroid will penetrate our atmosphere – more precisely, the exosphere – but only the outermost layer, which extends to an altitude of around 10,000 kilometers.