A massive asteroid, the size of Mount Everest, that shook the Earth in 1989 will return for a much closer look at the end of May. Eleanor Helin observed the asteroid 1989 JA on May 1, 1989, at Palomar Observatory. The 1989 JA passed close to Earth but was not deemed dangerous at the time.
1989 JA will be close enough to Earth to be deemed potentially dangerous and noticeable with a pair of binoculars. But don’t worry, the asteroid will be approximately 2.5 million miles from Earth.
The orbit of 1989 JA around the Sun lasts 861 days, and the asteroid returns to Earth’s orbit at random intervals. A previous close encounter with an asteroid was 3.4 million miles away in 1949, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
1989 JA is categorised as an Apollo asteroid as it will cross Earth’s orbit and start taking more than an Earth year to orbit the sun (861 years). Asteroid 1989 JA may not be a significant source of concern, but it is still classified as a potentially dangerous asteroid. Asteroids are considered potentially harmful if they transit within 4.6 million miles of Earth and have a diameter greater than 140 m (500 ft).
1989 JA is scheduled to return in the years ahead after passing Earth safely in May 2022. NASA/JPL data indicates that the asteroid will pass even farther away – and over 24 million miles away – in 2029 and 2048. Two additional crossings will be made in 2055 and 2062.
According to NASA, the planet is not in danger till 2186, when asteroid 2009 FD will pass by.