GUWAHATI, April 30 - A dazzling unidentified object, reported to have been spotted in the sky by some onlookers in Guwahati last night, generated a lot of curiosity among citizens.
Although NASA had said that an asteroid named �1998 OR2� would fly past Earth at a safe distance of 3.9 million miles/6.2 million kilometres on Wednesday, scientists here debunked the perception that the object seen last night over Guwahati could be that asteroid.
The 1998 OR2 flew past Earth at a distance calculated to be more than 16 times the average distance between Earth and Moon.
Guwahati Planetarium Curator BC Bora told The Assam Tribune that the asteroid cannot be seen with the naked eye and one would need a telescope for it.
A video circulated in the social media showed the bright object � often sparkling � in the atmosphere, not very far from Earth�s surface. Some onlookers reported to have taken the video, apparently with their cellphone cameras.
�It (1998 OR 2) cannot be so bright, nor can it be seen with the naked eye,� Bora said, adding that it could be either an artificial satellite, a drone, a jet plane, a sky lamp, or a balloon used for lab purposes.
Former Associate Professor of North Guwahati College Tapan K Sarma, however, insisted that the object is most likely to be a drone.
�Drones, or small planes that fly without humans, are used in photography nowadays. It is very often used in war and spying. The military has been doing drone tests in the last few months. We cannot exactly say it�s a military drone, but I strongly feel that it is indeed a drone. Some also fly drones as a hobby,� Sarma said.
The NASA had said that 1998 OR2 � also known as Asteroid 52768 � which is calculated to be around 2 kilometres wide, would zoom past Earth on Wednesday afternoon (IST) at a distance of 6.2 million kilometres.
Altogether 22,261 near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are known to scientists as of March 5, 2020, and only 1,955 of them are considered to be potentially hazardous.