Published: Tue, May 15, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Asteroid as big as football field will fly by Earth

Asteroid as big as football field will fly by Earth

Astronomers discovered asteroid 2010 WC9 on November 30, 2010. They didn't have enough observations to track its orbit fully and so predict its return.

The Minor Planet Center indicates that 2010 WC9 is an Apollo type asteroid, just like the infamous Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded over Russian Federation in 2013, injuring around 1,500 people.

Pacific Standard Time: 3:15 p.m.

Asteroid flyby tales are no more uncommon, with one of the most current one on asteroid 2018 GE3, which was just identified after it passed the Earth Exactly what makes this future planet flyby deserving of a tale?

It will be the closest approach of this asteroid in almost 300 years, NASA says.

Astronomers estimate the asteroid to be 71 kilometres in diameter (though it could be larger). No, not by any absolute measure. Now, imagine the damage that could be done by an asteroid the size of a house entering the atmosphere at more than 45,000 km/h. If it was made of even darker stuff than they thought, however, this space rock could have been up to 130 metres wide.

A report from EarthSky states that the asteroid, which is small by astronomical standards, is travelling at approximately 46,116 kilometres per hour. In addition, Slooh astronomers Paul Cox and Paige Godfrey will discuss and answer viewer questions about the asteroid and its trajectory.

The best strategy to ambush the space rock is to simply aim a low power field of view at the right coordinates at the right time (see below), and watch.

"The asteroid will be moving quite rapidly (30 arc seconds per minute)". We are of course collecting astrometric data whilst this is happening, but the motion of the asteroid will be apparent every five seconds!

Scientists now know that 2010 WC9 completes one orbit every 1.12 years, during which it gets as close to the sun as 0.78 AU and as far away as 1.38 AU. The CSS has found thousands of these small objects over the last two decades, including 2010 WC9.

Conspiracy theorists claim the Earth is due a direct hit with an asteroid. "Only very few objects of [this] size have ever been seen coming closer than the Moon", NBO astronomer Guy Wells told Newsweek. Northolt Branch Observatories in London will offer a live viewing of the asteroid on its Facebook page, starting around midnight (London time) on May 14.

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