Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Research | By Wilma Wheeler

Massive asteroid to pass near the Earth on Tuesday night

Massive asteroid to pass near the Earth on Tuesday night

Pacific Standard Time: 3:15 p.m. In space terms, the space rock is very small, classified as a near-Earth encounter. According to orbit calculations made by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the May 15 close approach is the closest of this particular asteroid in almost 300 years.

An artist's rendering of an asteroid passing by Earth. The limited observations at the time did not allow its orbit to be well defined until it was observed in recent days, nearly eight years later.

The space rock - dubbed Asteroid 2010 WC9 - will be roughly 126,000 miles from Earth at its closest point tonight.

The asteroid of 18 magnitudes is fainting and now at +15 mag. Experts suggest it might get as bright as +11 mag when it closely passes from the Earth.

Asteroid 2010 WC9 is an Apollo type space rock. When they did, they calculated its orbital trajectory (which they were unable to do previously), ultimately determining that it will pass within about 130,000 miles of Earth - or half the distance between Earth and the Moon. 2010 WC9 is on the small side as far as asteroids go, measuring between 197 to 427 feet.

2010 WC9 was first detected by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona on November 30, 2010, shows the Center for Near-Earth Objects Study (CNEOS) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). You can also watch on Slooh's Facebook page here. The experts, not being able to completely comprehend the asteroid, again re-imaged it on 10 May and named it as 2010 WC9.

"The broadcast will be less than 25 minutes in duration, as the asteroid will cross our field of view within that period of time", he added. The asteroid will be moving quite rapidly (30 arcseconds per minute). If you do not have a telescope and still enthused about watching the rock fall by, then there is a live streaming from Northholt Branch Observatories in London.

"Once enough data had been collected by us, and other observatories, it soon became apparent that it wasn't a new asteroid".

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