Get ready to look up, because 2022 is starting off strong! This January, a near-Earth asteroid will zip just a bit more than one million miles from Earth. That’s not close enough to be dangerous, so we’re not in a Don’t Look Up scenario, but it will be close enough for observers in the Southern Hemisphere to catch a glimpse of this space rock. Asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 will make its closest approach to Earth on January 18, though it is visible all January.
We’re putting a call out to all citizen scientists to observe this asteroid so that we can create a 3D model of its shape and refine its orbit. Not only does this asteroid cross Earth’s orbit, but (7482) 1994 PC1 will come close to Earth multiple times in the near future, making it potentially hazardous. It is around 1 kilometer (.6 of a mile) in size, comparable to the length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California.
We’ve actually had pictures of (7482) 1994 PC1 for nearly 50 years, even though we didn’t know it. The asteroid was formally discovered in 1994 by Robert McNaught, an astronomer at Australia’s Siding Spring Observatory. But some digging through the archives turned up pictures of the asteroid going back to 1974 — it just hadn’t been spotted!
You can already find it in the night sky, and in fact Unistellar Ambassador John Pickering has already spotted the asteroid from New Zealand!
Animation of Unistellar Ambassador John Pickering’s observation of (7482) 1994 PC1 on January 1, 2022.
Information from Unistellar Ambassador John Pickering’s observation of (7482) 1994 PC1 on January 1, 2022.
Update: Unistellar Ambassador Ian Blackwell has also detected (7482) 1994 PC1 from Australia!
Information from Unistellar Ambassador Ian Blackwell’s observation of (7482) 1994 PC1 on January 9, 2022.
You can find more information on how to observe this potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroid on our Planetary Defense Campaign page, including how to find it with your eVscope.
If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.