130m-wide Lost asteroid to zoom past Earth today

15 May, 2018, 22:45 | Author: Rosalie Gross
  • 'Lost' asteroid to pass closely May 15

During the 2018 return, closest approach of asteroid 2010 WC9 will happen on May 15 at 22:05 UTC (6:05 pm EDT; translate to your time). The jumbo jet-sized space rock is set to skim by Earth on Tuesday night. According to EarthSky, the space rock measures between 197 and 427 feet across. Asteroid 2010 WC9 is not among the potentially hazardous asteroids marked by NASA.

However, an asteroid discovered earlier this month - ZJ99C60, spotted on May 8 - turned out to be a blast from the past as astronomers realized it was actually 2010 WC9 coming back after nearly eight years.

An asteroid of a similar size passed by our planet just in April. As Eddie Irizarry reports for EarthSky, this flyby will be the closest this particular asteroid has come to the Earth in over 300 years, whizzing past at a distance of 126,000 miles from our planet's surface.

An asteroid that's estimated to be the size of the Statue of Liberty will narrowly miss Earth as it passes by the planet on May 14.

Between May 14 and 15 asteroid 2010 WC9 will pass between the orbit of Earth and the moon
Between May 14 and 15 asteroid 2010 WC9 will pass between the orbit of Earth and the moon

It is being said that the space rock has completed its orbit and now comes back to the Earth. The passage is the closest approach the asteroid will have made in almost 3,000 years. When compared to other asteroids that have zipped by the Earth, 2010 WC9 is not a large one, although it's larger compared to the Chelyabinsk meteor, that was 65 feet long.

Asteroid 2010 WC9 is only a fraction of the size of the rock that caused the mass extinction event that killed off the dinosaurs.

Guy Wells, from London's Northolt Branch observatory, said: 'The broadcast will last less than 25 minutes, since the asteroid will cross our field of view during this time period. However, astronomers weren't able to gather enough data to nail down the asteroid's orbit at the time, and 2010 WC9 went off the radar for more than seven years. The asteroid will move pretty fast (30 seconds of arc per minute).

The asteroid was not be visible to the naked eye but those who do not have telescopes can still get in on the action via Northolt Branch Observatories, which was posting a live broadcast to its Facebook account. Our display will update every five seconds.

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