An asteroid big enough to destroy a city will pass harmlessly between Earth and Moon orbit this weekend and miss both celestial bodies. Saturday’s close encounter will give astronomers a chance to examine the space rock from a distance of just over 100,000 miles (168,000 kilometers). Since it is less than half the distance to the Moon from here, it can be seen with binoculars and small telescopes.
While asteroid flybys are common, NASA says it’s rare for an asteroid this large to come this close—about once every decade. Scientists estimate its size to be between 130 and 300 feet (40 to 90 meters). Discovered a month ago, the asteroid known as 2023 DZ2 will fly within 320,000 miles (515,000 kilometers) of the moon on Saturday and fly over the Indian Ocean at around 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 km/h) a few hours later.
“This ‘city killer’ has no chance of hitting Earth, but its close approach offers a great opportunity for observations,” said Richard Moisle, head of planetary protection at the European Space Agency.
According to NASA, astronomers at the International Asteroid Warning Network think it’s good practice to protect the planet if a dangerous asteroid is coming our way and in the meantime. The virtual telescope project will provide a live webcast of the close approach. The asteroid won’t return to our path until 2026. Although at first it seemed unlikely that it would collide with Earth, scientists later denied it.
Source: Port Altele
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