Tucson Astronomer Detects Earth-bound Asteroid
Sky watchers in Botswana, Africa, got a front row seat to a brilliant asteroid disintegration last weekend.
The object was discovered by a Tucson researcher from the Catalina Sky Survey based at the University of Arizona.
"2018 LA" may read like a prediction for a World Series victory.
But it’s actually a designation for a tiny asteroid detected by Richard Kowalski only about eight hours before entering the Earth’s atmosphere. "Objects this small are difficult for us to detect until they’re rather close," he said. "So quite often when you hear of objects like this having close approaches in the news, it’s because they are so faint that it’s hard for us to detect them."
Kowalski said NASA tasks his laboratory to look for objects that are about the size of two football fields or larger that would trigger a planetary defense warning. As a result, this was a lucky but harmless find.