Orbit of asteroid (52768) 1998 OR2. It requires 3 years and 8 months to orbit the sun onc. It gets nearly as far from the sun as Jupiter (about 5 times Earth’s distance from the sun). Image via NASA/ JPL.
Have you heard the buzz about a big – very big – asteroid that’ll pass close in April? We have! No, it won’t hit our planet. In fact, it won’t have any effects on Earth. Still, excitement is building among both professional and amateur astronomers about the upcoming flyby of asteroid (52768) 1998 OR2 – the biggest asteroid due to fly by Earth this year – coming closest on April 29, 2020. This space rock is probably at least a mile wide (1.8 km) and maybe 2 1/2 times that big (4.1 km). Closest approach is April 29 around 5:56 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (09:56 UTC; translate UTC to your time). Professional observatories are already pointing their telescopes at the huge space rock. Amateur astronomers with smaller telescopes will have an opportunity to see it as a slow-moving “star” very soon; if that’s you, we give charts and tips for observers at the bottom of this post that should help.