On December 11, the asteroid 4660 Nereus will zoom by Earth in a quick, close flyby. Nereus will pass just 3.9 million kilometers (2.4 million miles) from our planet, close enough that, along with other close flybys in the future, astronomers have flagged the Near-Earth Asteroid as potentially hazardous. The Unistellar community is mobilizing to observe Nereus as it makes its appearance this week, and you can use your eVscope to join in on the action!
4660 Nereus is egg-shaped and measures roughly 510 meters (1,670 feet) on its longest side. It’s a frequent visitor to Earth, and not just interesting to astronomers. The asteroid is full of iron, cobalt and nickel that some estimates value at $4.71 billion. The asteroid’s proximity to Earth and particular orbit make it especially accessible, and a potential target for space mining missions.
The name Nereus comes from ancient Greek, and referred to a god often called “The Old Man of the Sea.” Nereus was the son of Gaia (the Earth) and Pontus (the sea), and was said to have ruled the ocean waters long before Poseidon.
Observe Nereus with your eVscope
Don’t miss the opportunity to observe the asteroid with your eVscope if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere! Unistellar Ambassadors Bruno Guillet (France), Scott Kardel (US), Justus Randolph (US), and Keiichi Fukui (Japan) have already observed 4660 Nereus, but we will be able to learn more about it on the 11th as we observe the asteroid when it comes closest to Earth.
Unistellar Ambassador Bruno Guillet’s observation of 4660 Nereus, from December 2, 2021
Unistellar Ambassador Keiichi Fukui’s observation of 4660 Nereus, from December 4, 2021