1999 VF22 is a cruise-ship-sized space rock that astronomers say will safely pass Earth on February 22, 2022. The space rock will be making its closest approach in more than 100 years, which will be at 2:54 a.m. EST (07:54 UTC) on February 22. The asteroid will pass us at a distance of 3.3 million miles (5.4 million km) which is almost 14 times the Earth-moon distance. Despite this safe expanse, it will still be close enough for astronomers to study the asteroid using radar. The Virtual Telescope will also air its flyby live. And you can use a (large) backyard telescope to watch it slide past.
Asteroid 1999 VF22 is a particularly fast moving rock, traveling at 56,158 miles per hour (25.1 km/s) relative to Earth. Even though it will pass at a safe distance, it’s still classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid due to its predicted close passes by Earth.
Asteroid 1999 VF22 will come slightly closer in 128 years, when it returns on February 23, 2150.
This isn’t a newly discovered asteroid. The Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona discovered it way back on November 10, 1999. The date of discovery is how asteroid 455176 got its designation of 1999 VF22.
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of STM Daily News, a part of the TNC Network.