Jumbo Jet-Size Asteroid 2010 WC9 Buzzes Earth Soon

15 May, 2018, 22:41 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • Asteroid 2010 WC9 on May 10. Image via Daniel Bamberger  Northolt Branch Observatories

An asteroid of the size of a long football field reportedly would pass right by the Earth at a seemingly closer distance.

It will pass within 126,419 miles of Earth, or about half the distance from our planet to the moon.

After finally calculating the asteroid's orbit, JPL revealed that next week's approach will be the closest that 2010 WC9 has made in almost 300 years.

The catchy-named 2010 WC9 is somewhere between 200 and 400 feet in diameter, "as big across as a city block" according to Goddard Space Flight Center asteroid expert Dr. Erin Ryan. But despite its unremarkable size, it's quite notable in terms of its proximity.

Discovered on November 30, 2010 by the Catalina Sky Survey, Arizona, specialized in the detection of this type of objects, it had disappeared from the radar after ten days, as it went away and became too dim to be observed. 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. Asteroid 2010 WC9 is not among the potentially hazardous asteroids marked by NASA.

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For comparison, the asteroid that plunged into the atmosphere on February 15, 2013, and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, was estimated at being around 20 metres wide.

"We have discussed unusual objects 2010 with WC9 with EarthSky!". No, not by any absolute measure.

The webcast will feature live views of 2010 WC9 captured by four different telescopes at Slooh's observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, Slooh representatives said.

"2010 WC9 is expected to reach 11th magnitude on the day of closest approach (May 15th), bright enough to be seen with a small telescope. We had helped to recover an asteroid that was lost eight years ago", astronomer Guy Wells, of the Northolt Branch Observatories in London, told Newsweek.

"We knew that it would likely come close in May of 2018".

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