Killer NASA Asteroid 2010 WC9 to fly between Earth and moon TONIGHT! | Science | News


Nearly eight years after astronomers lost track of the estimated 120m-long space rock, Asteroid WC9 is ready to come back in spectacular fashion.

The giant , around the size of the Statue of Liberty, will track a peculiar path and fly between Earth and its natural satellite.

At its closest, the asteroid will come close to Earth within 0.53 lunar distances – around 203,000km.

The approach is expected to happen around 1am BST, in the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 15.

Asteroid 2010 WC9 was first observed on November 30, 2010, by the US-based Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona.

But the asteroid dashed out of sight and into the darkness of by December, leaving scientists uncertain where it might be headed next.

Astronomers were unable to track WC9’s path until now.

Daniel Bamberger, at London’s Northolt Branch Observatories, said: “We imaged this object twice. First on May 9, when it was still known by its temporary designation ZJ99C60.

“Then again on May 10, after it was identified as asteroid 2010 WC9, which had been a lost asteroid for eight years.

“It is still a faint object of 18th magnitude, but it is brightening very rapidly.

“2010 WC9 will be brighter than 11th magnitude at closest approach, making it visible in a small telescope.”

Calculations by ’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory suggest this will be the closest Asteroid WC9 will come to Earth in the next 300 years.

Unfortunately, the asteroid will not light up brightly enough to be visible to the naked eye, but small telescopes could aid you in the endeavour.

However, if you are keen on seeing the asteroid zoom by, then you are in luck because the event will be streamed online by multiple sources.

You can check out robotic telescope service Slooh, which will and its website tonight.

Northolt Branch Observatories will also host a Facebook Live event later this evening.

Guy Wells at Northolt Branch Observatories, said: “We are planning to broadcast this asteroid live to our Facebook page on the night of May 14, likely around midnight, if the weather forecast remains positive.

“The broadcast will be less than 25 minutes in duration, as the asteroid will cross our field of view within that period of time.

“The asteroid will be moving quite rapidly – 30 arcseconds per minute. Our display will update every five seconds.

“We are of course collecting astrometric data while this is happening, but the motion of the asteroid will be apparent every five seconds.”



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