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‘Potentially hazardous asteroid’ will make a close approach to Earth on Super Bowl Sunday

Asteroid approach on Super Bowl Sunday will be close, but no need to cancel your party

This video shows the path of Asteroid 2002 AJ129, which will make a close approach to Earth on Feb. 4, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. EST. But don't cancel your Super Bowl LII party. At the time of closest approach, the asteroid will be at a distance of 2.6
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This video shows the path of Asteroid 2002 AJ129, which will make a close approach to Earth on Feb. 4, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. EST. But don't cancel your Super Bowl LII party. At the time of closest approach, the asteroid will be at a distance of 2.6

An asteroid NASA officials classify as potentially hazardous will shoot past the Earth on Super Bowl Sunday at about 76,000 mph.

The asteroid, about one-third of a mile long, is known as 2002 AJ129, and while it’s classified as potentially hazardous, it’s not expected to crash into the Earth.

Even at its closest approach at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, the asteroid will be no closer than 10 times the distance between Earth and the moon – about 2.6 million miles, according to NASA officials.

“It does not pose an actual threat of colliding with our planet for the foreseeable future,” according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

“We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Lab. “Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance – zero – of colliding with Earth on Feb. 4 or any time over the next 100 years.”

NASA uses set criteria to determine whether an asteroid is potentially hazardous.

Any asteroid that comes within 4.65 million miles of the Earth and is more than 500 feet in diameter falls into the “potentially hazardous” category.

An asteroid came within 26,000 miles of the Earth last October, allowing for a test of the planetary defense system.

For more information on asteroids and near-Earth objects, go to cneos.jpl.nasa.gov or www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch. You can also follow NASA’s Asteroid Watch at twitter.com/AsteroidWatch.

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768, @AbbieRBennett

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