Potentially Hazardous Asteroid 2014 JO25: how to observe it

On 19 April 2017, at 12:24 Universal Time, the potentially hazardous asteroid 2014 JO25, with a diameter of about 1 km, will make a safe close encounter with the Earth (1.7 millions of km, 4.57 times the mean distance of the Moon), becoming visible with modest instruments, including binoculars and small telescope. Here it is how to see it.

2014 JO25: path in the sky as seen from the center of the Earth from 19 Apr. to 22 Apr. 2017

2014 JO25: path in the sky as seen from the center of the Earth from 19 Apr. to 22 Apr. 2017

*** The Virtual Telescope will show asteroid 2014 JO25 live, online, for free. Check it out here.

Of course, you will need to know where to look, where to point your telescopes or binoculars. Because 2014 JO25 is coming relatively close to us, its position in the sky will be different from location to location, so you will need to consider where you are on the Earth.  You can use the ephemeris generator available at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, setting your personal position there.

To see it with an amateur telescope, we have to wait until 18 April, when its position in space, compared to that of the Earth (where we are) and the Sun (the source of the light making it visible), will make it bright enough (brighter than magnitude 17.0), within the capabilities of a small telescope equipped with a digital imaging camera).

On the following hours, while safely approaching us, it will brighten a lot and early on 19 April, it will be visible visually through a 6″ (150 mm) large telescope. At the time of its minimum distance from us (19 April, 12:24 UT), will shine as bright as magnitude 11.0, easy to spot with a very small (60 mm of aperture) telescope or binocular.

A few hours after its close encounter, before the end of 19 April, asteroid 2014 JO25 will peak at magnitude 10.7, easy to see with the smallest binoculars (40 mm aperture) and very easy to image even with a ordinary, moderate telephoto lens, able to immediately document its motion across the stars.

When looking at asteroid 2014 JO25 visually with a telescope, around the time of its minimum distance, you will easily see it moving in real time, thanks to its proximity to us: it is a quite exciting experience!

*** The Virtual Telescope will show asteroid 2014 JO25 live, online, for free. Check it out here.

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