Asteroid 2004 XP14 will visibly pass quite close to Earth Sunday night/Monday morning

Asteroid sky map North American stargazers are about to be treated to something quite special: an asteroid will pass by Earth just outside the Moon’s orbit. At its closest approach, the asteroid will appear to move 1/2 (the width of a full moon) every four minutes. See this Sky & Telescope article for more information and finder charts. also has coverage of the asteroid’s close encounter. They write (and this is backed up by other sources) that 2004 XP14 will be nearest earth at 12:28 AM EDT July 3, or 9:28 PDT July 2. The asteroid is expected to brighten for a few hours to 11th magnitude, too dim for the naked eye, but within the reach of a 6″ or better telescope. Hope for clear skies!

(Image Courtesy Sky & Telescope magazine)

The asteroid will appear to wander past the Perseus Double Cluster, through Cassiopeia, and into Cepheus. The latter are two easily-identified circumpolar constellations (the ‘W’ of Cassiopeia, especially), so with some patience and a good chart, this should be a good chance to see something quite unique. Good luck!

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