The 2004 BL86 asteroid will pass close enough to the Earth this evening that you’ll be able to see it with a pair of binoculars

Near-Earth asteroid

The 2004 BL86 asteroid will be about three times further away than the moon at its closest point

Not every week starts off with a 900m-long asteroid passing close enough to Earth you can spot it with binoculars.

But this evening (Monday, January 26) asteroid 2004 BL86 will miss us by 750,000 miles as it hurtles past at 35,000mph.

“While it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it’s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more,” stated Don Yeomans, the manager of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program.

“I may grab my favourite binoculars and give it a shot myself. Asteroids are something special.”

When to watch it

The asteroid will be at its closest at 16.20 UTC (GMT), just before the sun is due to set in the UK at 16.38.

2004 BL86 Asteroid

The path of the 2004 BL86 asteroid

Give it another four hours though and you’ll be able to glimpse it moving through the constellation of Hydra to the east-southeast around 8pm.

It will be too faint to see with the naked eye but should be visible with a small telescope or binoculars.

“Not only did asteroids provide Earth with the building blocks of life and much of its water, but in the future, they will become valuable resources for mineral ores and other vital natural resources,” said Yeomans.

“They will also become the fueling stops for humanity as we continue to explore our solar system.”

2004 BL86

The 2004 BL86 Asteroid will pass within 750,000 miles of Earth

We won’t see another asteroid pass this close to Earth until 2027.

If the sky is too cloudy to spot the asteroid – or you can’t lay hold of binoculars –  you’ll be able to watch a live stream of the passing thanks to Slooh, the live online observatory.