CAPE CANAVERAL (United States), March 24 (AP) — An asteroid large enough to destroy a city will coast harmlessly between the orbits of Earth and the moon this weekend, missing two celestial bodies.
Saturday’s close encounter will give astronomers the chance to study the space rock more than 100,000 miles (168,000 kilometers) away. That’s less than half the distance to the Moon from here, so it can be seen with binoculars and small telescopes.
While flybys of asteroids are common, NASA says flybys of such a large asteroid this close are rare — about once every ten years. Scientists estimate its size to be between 130 feet and 300 feet (40 meters to 90 meters).
Discovered a month ago, the asteroid, called 2023 DZ2, will come within 320,000 miles (515,000 kilometers) of the moon on Saturday and, hours later, will travel at about 17,500 mph (28,000 km/h) speed across the Indian Ocean.
“This urban killer is unlikely to hit Earth, but its close range provides a good opportunity to observe it,” Richard Moiser, ESA’s head of planetary defense, said in a statement.
According to NASA, astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network believe it’s good practice for planetary defense if a dangerous asteroid is heading our way.
The Virtual Telescope Project will provide a live webcast of the approach at close range.
The asteroid will not return to Earth again until 2026. Although initially it seemed possible that it could hit Earth, scientists have ruled that out. (Associated Press)
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