An Asteroid Passing Earth Will Be Visible in the Sky

Friday, 05 February 2016 - 12:48PM
NASA
Astronomy
Friday, 05 February 2016 - 12:48PM
An Asteroid Passing Earth Will Be Visible in the Sky
On March 5, an asteroid will pass unusually close to Earth, and will possibly even be visible in the night sky. The trajectory is a little unclear, but the relatively small object could pass by at 9 million miles or as close as 11,000 miles. If it's the latter, it will be easy to spot with a backyard telescope.

The object is indeed coming "close" to Earth, but since the internet is so prone to getting itself into a frenzy, the NASA statement makes sure to clarify more than once that the asteroid will NOT collide with Earth. There is a very, very small chance (one in 250 million) that this object could collide with Earth during its next flyby on September 28, 2017, but there is virtually no possibility for this upcoming flyby.

Opening quote
"The possibilities of collision on any of the three future flyby dates are far too small to be of any real concern," said Paul Chodas, manager of CNEOS. "I fully expect any future observations to reduce the probability even more."
Closing quote

The asteroid was first discovered during its last flyby two years ago, in October 2013. It could briefly be seen when it was discovered at night, but after three days was lost to tracking when it hit the daytime sky. Since it was only tracked for a short time, astronomers were unable to fully determine its orbit, which may make it a little more difficult to find when it passes.

Opening quote
"This asteroid's orbit is quite uncertain, and it will be hard to predict where to look for it," said Chodas. "There is a chance that the asteroid will be picked up by our asteroid search telescopes when it safely flies past us next month, providing us with data to more precisely define its orbit around the sun."
Closing quote
Science
Space
NASA
Astronomy

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