An Asteroid Will Hurtle Past Earth Tonight in Close Flyby

15 May, 2018, 22:45 | Author: Sidney Guerrero
  • Asteroid 2010 WC9 on May 9. Image via Daniel Bamberger  Northolt Branch Observatories

During the 2018 return, closest approach of asteroid 2010 WC9 will happen on May 15 at 22:05 UTC (6:05 pm EDT; translate to your time).

The space rock is believed to be equivalent in size to the one that exploded more than 100 years ago in Russia's Tunguska region in Siberia - the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history.

A preliminary analysis of the asteroid's orbit showed this was the closest 2018 GE has come to Earth since at least 1930.

An asteroid the size of a football field flew by Earth in April.

Asteroid 2010 WC9 is projected to be between 125 feet and 390 feet wide, according to Space.com, and astronomers reported that the rock will pass the Earth by only 126,000 miles.

More news: Ireland bowl in inaugural Test against Pakistan

However, this time, it's about a different space rock.

In fact, even in terms of size, this will be the closest ever approach made by an asteroid this big. Estimates of asteroid 2010 WC9's diameter range from 197 to 427 feet (60-130 meters); estimates of the Chelyabinsk meteor's size before encountering Earth's atmosphere center around 65 feet (20 meters).

It won't be visible to the eye at any point, but with an amateur telescope pointed at the right location and time, it might be bright enough to been seen. The Arizona Catalina sky survey was first discovered on November 30, 2010, and astronomers watched until December 10, when it became too weak. Finally able to track the space rock's path, astronomers quickly predicted the asteroid's path, finding it will pass by Earth at a close, but not catastrophic, distance. The asteroid will move pretty fast (30 seconds of arc per minute).

Nearly eight years later, on May 8, astronomers managed to track down the asteroid, and after close observations they concluded it was 2010 WC9 that had returned. Our display will be updated every five seconds. However, Northolt Branch Observatories in England will broadcast live from their telescope the day before the "lost" asteroid's approach, the nonprofit organization announced on Facebook.

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