A massive asteroid nearly the size of London’s iconic Big Ben clock tower will come within 107,500 miles (173,000 km) of Earth on Saturday — twice as close as the moon, which is at an average distance of 238,855 miles (384,400 km). ) is running.
The space rock, dubbed ‘2023 DZ2’, is currently estimated to be up to 305 feet (93 m) in diameterwhile Big Ben stands at 315 feet (96 m).
It is also three times the size of the Chelyabinsk asteroid that hit Russia in 2013 and twice circumnavigated the globe with a shock wave.
2023 DZ2 is estimated to make its closest approach to Earth at 19:51 GMT (15:51 EDT), traveling at 17,426 mph (28,044 km/h).
NASA says an object of this size coming this close to Earth only happens about once a decade.
A massive asteroid nearly the size of London’s iconic Big Ben clock tower will come within 107,500 miles (173,000 km) of Earth on Saturday — twice as close as the moon, which orbits at an average distance of 238,855 miles (384,400 km). km)
2023 DZ2 (pictured) is estimated to make its closest approach to Earth at 19:51 GMT (15:51 EDT) on Saturday, traveling at 17,426 mph (28,044 km/h)
The U.S. Space Agency’s Asteroid Watch team tweeted: “Astronomers at the International Asteroid Warning Network are using this close approach to learn as much as possible about DZ2 2023 in a short period of time – good practice for #PlanetaryDefense in the future as a possible asteroid threat have ever been discovered.’
WHAT ARE NEAR ASTEROIDS?
Near-Earth asteroids are rocky bodies that orbit the sun on a path that brings them close to Earth’s orbit.
An asteroid is called a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) when its orbit brings it within 1.3 astronomical units (AU) of the sun.
A single astronomical unit is the distance between the sun and the earth.
The asteroid was discovered on February 27 this year by scientists collaborating with the European Near Earth Asteroids Research project.
They observed it using the Isaac Newton telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands.
At the time, it was 9.9 million miles (16 million km) from Earth and took about 3.16 years to orbit the sun.
But after we pass our planet this weekend and expose it to gravity, its orbital period will be reduced to about 3.01 years.
2023 DZ2 is an Apollo asteroid, meaning it traverses Earth’s orbit, just like the asteroid named ‘Apollo’ in 1862, which was first observed doing so.
Although it is not known exactly where it comes from, most near-Earth objects come from the “main” asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office says that “the vast majority of near-Earth objects originate from the inner part of the main belt where their orbits have been altered over tens of millions of years by the gravitational influence of Jupiter and Mars, and some by collisions between them.”
Although the maximum potential diameter of 2023 DZ2 is 315 feet (96 m), scientists claim it could be as small as 135 feet (41 m).
The Chelyabinsk asteroid, which wreaked havoc and injured more than 1,600 people when it impacted, was only 19 meters long.
2023 DZ2 briefly had a one in 430 chance of hitting Earth on March 27, 2026 NASA’s risk listbut this probability has since been reduced to zero.
The asteroid was discovered on February 27 this year by scientists from the European Near Earth Asteroids Research project. Pictured: The asteroid’s location in the solar system on Saturday
NASA scientists say an object of this size coming this close to Earth “only happens about once a decade.” Although the maximum potential diameter of 2023 DZ2 is 315 feet (96 m), scientists claim it could be as small as 135 feet (41 m).
2023 DZ2 is an Apollo asteroid, meaning it traverses Earth’s orbit, just like the asteroid named ‘Apollo’ in 1862, which was first observed doing so
NASA has calculated that 2023 DZ2 will be brightest to stargazers in Southeast Asia on Saturday at about 17:20 GMT, with an apparent magnitude of 9,902.
Elsewhere it will be duskier, but according to EarthSky it will be visible from the Northern Hemisphere on Friday evening at approximately 19:52 GMT (15:52 EDT).
Amateur astronomers who want to catch a glimpse should use a telescope with an optical tube of at least 6 inches.
It will appear as a slow-moving star in the southeastern sky, just east of the constellations Orion, Canis Major and Canis Minor, EarthSky reports.
The best way to see it is to aim the telescope at a known star in its path, such as HIP 45578, and wait for the asteroid to come into view.
You can also view the approach of the asteroid with the live stream hosted by the Virtual Telescope Project, which begins Saturday night at 23:30 GMT (19:30 EDT).
2023 DZ2 will appear as a slow-moving star in the southeast, just east of the constellations Orion, Canis Major and Canis Minor, EarthSky reports
There are several asteroids that could hit Earth in the coming centuries, though space agencies around the world are watching them closely.
NASA also conducted a successful experiment where a small spacecraft deflected a space rock by ramming into it – the DART mission.
The good news is that very large asteroids – the type that killed the dinosaurs – are being watched and all are deemed “extremely unlikely” to hit Earth.
NASA says more than 100 tons of rocky particles hit Earth every day — but football field-sized asteroids only hit every 2,000 years.
Civilization-ending asteroids collide with our planet only once every few million years — and all rocks of this size are closely monitored.
Asteroids are rated for their probability of hitting Earth on three scales: the Torino Scale, a one-to-ten scale from 0 (will not hit Earth) to 10 (will hit Earth and will be catastrophic).
At present, no asteroid ranks higher than one.
The companion Palermo Scale is used by scientists to rank risks over time — and NASA’s Sentry Risk Table classifies asteroids by their risk of hitting Earth.
The first sightings of asteroids are usually brief, and as scientists get more data, the likelihood of impact decreases.
NASA’s interactive tool lets users track the asteroids racing toward Earth
Earlier this month, NASA warned that a city-destroying asteroid the size of the Leaning Tower of Pisa could slam into Earth in just over 20 years.
It came just two months after another space rock — the size of a London bus — made the fourth closest approach to our planet ever.
The good news is that the US space agency, along with scientists from around the world, is monitoring potential asteroids – and the even better news is that you can do this too interactive tool.
It shows the next five closest approaches to Earth, starting with 2020 FV4 in three days.
The 100-foot-wide object is expected to race past our planet at a distance of about 4.1 million miles (6.7 million km).
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