January 26, 2015 at 16:20 UTC, or 11:20 a.m. EST – the asteroid will be approximately 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Earth, or about three times the moon’s distance. It’ll be observable by amateur astronomers with small telescopes and strong binoculars!
Even at its peak brightness, the asteroid will not be bright enough to view with the unaided eye.
But, as night falls on January 26, both professional and amateur astronomers will be pointing their telescopes at the constellation Cancer, where the space rock’s motion will be observed as it flies past us in space. 2004 BL86 will reach visual magnitude of 9, meaning it will be observable as a faint star through telescopes with an aperture of 4 inch (10 cm) and bigger. Although it may be visible even with big binoculars, a steady mount and bigger optics will let an observer see the asteroid’s motion better.
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