Asteroid passing between Earth and the moon will be visible through small telescope
An asteroid will pass between Earth and the moon this weekend, giving scientists the opportunity to study the asteroid close up.
An asteroid of this size passes near Earth about only once every decade, making it quite a rare occurrence.
It’s estimated to be around 40 to 90 metres in diameter, which would be big enough to destroy a city if it were to hit the Earth.
Fortunately, the asteroid, named 2023 DZ2, will just pass harmlessly between our planet and the moon’s orbit.
“There is no chance of this ‘city killer’ striking Earth, but its close approach offers a great opportunity for observations,” the European Space Agency’s planetary defence chief, Richard Moissl, said.
Nasa’s asteroid watch said: “While close approaches are a regular occurrence, one by an asteroid of this size (140-310 ft) happens only about once per decade, providing a unique opportunity for science.
“Astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network are using this close approach to learn as much as possible about 2023 DZ2 in a short time period — good practice for #PlanetaryDefense in the future if a potential asteroid threat were ever discovered.”
A newly discovered #asteroid named 2023 DZ2 will safely pass by Earth on Saturday at 100K+ miles away. 🌎
While close approaches are a regular occurrence, one by an asteroid of this size (140-310 ft) happens only about once per decade, providing a unique opportunity for science.
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) March 21, 2023
Astronomers will study the asteroid from around 168,000 kilometres away, which will make it visible through telescopes and even binoculars.
The asteroid will be at its closest point to Earth on Saturday, March 25, at around 7.15pm.
People in the Northern Hemisphere will be able to watch the asteroid through a telescope, but it will be the brightest for people in South-East Asia.
There will also be a live webcast of the asteroid hosted by the Virtual Telescope Project.
Stargazers who miss this passing will have to wait until 2026 for the asteroid to return — and thankfully scientists have ruled out the chance of hitting Earth on its way back.