Football-Shaped Asteroid of Love, Eros, Is Tumbling Past Earth
The near-Earth Asteroid 433 Eros, so named upon its 1898 discovery on the same night, August 13, by Gustav Witt in Berlin and Auguste Charlois at Nice, is the first asteroid to be orbited by a probe. It was also the first Near-Earth Asteroid discovered.
The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous—Shoemaker (NEAR) mission probe also landed on the planetoid on February 12, 2001, after orbiting and taking numerous images, and there it still stays.
At 21 miles long, Eros comes its closest to Earth every 1.76 years. This year it’s passing through just around Valentine’s Day, when it actually starts withdrawing. On January 31 it came a “mere” 15 million miles from Earth, which is 70 times the moon’s distance. Sky & Telescope notes that Eros will continue to be viewable in the night sky until mid-February.
Called the “God of Love” space rock because of its name, Eros has not been this close to Earth since 1975. The next time it gets anywhere near this close will be January 2056.