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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Large asteroid RM4 to pass closely November 1

Large asteroid to pass Earth

The Pan-STARRS 2 telescope in Hawaii discovered a new asteroid on September 12, 2022, that might be as large as a half-mile wide. Additional observations, including some on October 5, 2022, from Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, confirmed the asteroid’s path. The Minor Planet Center has given the asteroid the designation 2022 RM4. Despite the Minor Planet Center listing it as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, it poses no threat to Earth. It will come just under six times the moon’s distance from Earth on November 1, 2022. That’s far enough away that we’ll be safe. But it’s close enough that some telescope-owners might get a peek.

How large is 2022 RM4?

The newly discovered asteroid might be as large as 740 meters, or 0.45 miles wide. That would make RM4 almost the same size as Didymos, which spans about 780 meters (0.48 miles). If the name Didymos rings a bell, that’s because it’s the parent asteroid of Didymos B or Dimorphos. The DART mission recently impacted Dimorphos in an effort to push it slightly off course. The mission was the 1st planetary defense test of its kind.

For comparison, the tallest tower on Earth, the Burj Khalifa, stands 828 meters tall, or just over half a mile.

Large asteroid: View of skyscrapers with tallest towering building in background through haze.
The Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, is 828 meters tall, or more than half a mile. The newly discovered asteroid 2022 RM4 might be about as large as 740 meters in length. Image via Manprit Kalsi/ Pexels.

How to see 2022 RM4

As of early October, observations of asteroid 2022 RM4 put it at about magnitude 19.5. That’s much too faint to see with the eye, or even most amateur telescopes. But it’ll brighten as it comes closer to Earth, reaching approximately magnitude 14.3 on November 1. That’s still quite dim, but people with large amateur telescopes or access to online telescopes or observatories will be able to get a peek.

Bottom line: A large asteroid, possibly half a mile wide, will pass nearly 6 moon-diameters away from Earth on November 1. It poses no danger to Earth.

Read more: How big are asteroids? See comparative sizes in this video

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