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I would like to see a near earth object proper with my eyes or binoculars someday.

Has this been possible recently? Are there any upcoming potential opportunities to do so in say the next 20 or 50 years? I have a shot at the first one, the second one is for the benefit of others :-)

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  • $\begingroup$ Your question sound very much like a task for WolframAlpha. They seem to have a database with NEO, but I fail to guess the syntax which one comes next. $\endgroup$ – B--rian Mar 23 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ @B--rian disagree, WA is great but it is imperfect and not necessarily maintained well, and it is a black box, not transparent. There's no way to understand for sure where it gets its data and how frequently it updates. cf. Why doesn't Wolfram Alpha show low gravitational acceleration for the Hudson Bay? It's much better to go to primary sources than to put WA between you and the good stuff. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 23 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ @B--rian Okay, if you feel like it you can pass along my problem with the Hudson bay as well. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 23 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ @RobbieGoodwin I have already linked to Wikipedia's article Near-Earth object. It's an accepted, standard astronomical term. If you click on the near-earth-object tag below the question you can learn more from the tag's usage guidance and from the other questions that have the tag. The term does not apply to objects in stable Earth orbit (satellites, natural or artificial). NEO's will be in heliocentric orbit, bound or unbound. I will not define "see... with my eyes or binoculars..." further. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 24 at 1:43
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    $\begingroup$ @RobbieGoodwin Ed(ification) is my middle name! :-) $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 24 at 14:26
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Your best viewing opportunity will be 99942 Apophis which will pass Earth on April 13, 2029, where it will pass about 19,600 miles from Earth; look out for that. According to Wikipedia:

On that date, it will become as bright as magnitude 3.1 (visible to the naked eye from rural as well as darker suburban areas, visible with binoculars from most locations)

Other ones include:

(137108) 1999 AN10, passing Earth at a distance of 240,000 miles on August 7, 2027, peaking at apparent magnitude 7.3, visible with binoculars, but questionably visible in urban areas.

(153814) 2001 WN5, approaching at 155,000 miles on June 26, 2028, at magnitude 6.7.

I hope this helps.

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    $\begingroup$ Oh this is great! Only eight more years to the "apophic event" :-) $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 23 at 2:50
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh Done. Would you like more asteroids or is this enough? $\endgroup$ – fasterthanlight Mar 23 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ Interesting! At that range and if we assume a speed of ~40km/sec, this thing will traverse 60° of sky in about 20 mins. So it would cross the Moon's diameter in about 10 seconds. That's quite fast for an astronomical object and should be perceptible to the naked eye. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Bravo Mar 23 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ Another good candidate soon with binoculars would be (7482) 1994 PC1, a 1km object passing by at 5.2 lunar distances with on 2022 Jan 18. This website keeps a running log of bright asteroids for the upcoming year: astro.vanbuitenen.nl/brightneos $\endgroup$ – Xerxes Mar 23 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Xerxes thanks! Since you can cite a useful source that future readers will find very useful why not write that up as a second answer? Comments are considered temporary and these could all be cleaned up at some point. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 23 at 18:27

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