NEO 103397 renamed “Chandra” (excerpt from “Amateur Astronomy Monthly”)
Many of you will have been following the fascinating progress of object 2014RB6, an asteroid first discovered by Dr. Narayan Ramakesh last week. As one of the many millions of listed objects in our galaxy it caused little interest until the La Sagra Astronomical Laboratory in Almería, Spain confirmed the discovery and named it NEO (Near Earth Object) 103397. Yesterday, as the discoverer of the object, Dr. Ramakesh announced the object was being named ‘Chandra’ after the Hindu goddess of the moon. While Chandra remains several million miles away from Earth, on a galactic scale that makes it quite close to us. So it grants a rare opportunity to observe the movement of a large object as it passes our solar system. Chandra is huge. Estimated to have a diameter of 7,500 metres and a weight of over 700,000 tons, it is approximately the size of mount Everest. But current observations have suggested it has a considerably greater density due to its metallic composition. It is currently travelling at a speed of about 650,000 km/h. While such an object travelling past us at considerable speed might sound alarming, scientists are quick to remind the public that there is no cause for concern. Passing close to the Earth still means it will be thousands of kilometers away from us, barely even observable with the naked eye. Nevertheless scientists will be monitoring Chandra as it passes by, and gaining further insight into our incredible galaxy with their observations.