A large asteroid that could be 140 to 310 feet in diameter will safely pass by Earth on Saturday afternoon.
By comparison, the space rock that entered the atmosphere and exploded near Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 was 65 feet in diameter.
Asteroids as large as 310 feet pass by the Earth only once a decade, NASA says. NASA data indicates that, at its closest approach at around 3:51 p.m. EDT Saturday, this asteroid — named 2023 DZ2 — will be 108,500 miles away from our planet.
The asteroid’s proximity to Earth will allow for observation by telescopes of 6 inches or greater in diameter. The rock’s speed, 4.83 miles per second, is relatively slow by asteroid standards and will appear as a sluggish object in small telescopes.
As of now, the projected time when 2023 DZ2 will pass closest to Earth is 3:51 EDT Saturday, although that could change as scientists gain more data on the asteroid and its trajectory as it approaches Earth.
Some additional data already bodes well for us Earthlings.
The 2023 DZ2 asteroid orbits the Sun every 3.16 years, and previously astronomers thought the rock might strike Earth on March 27, 2026. That small chance was lowered to zero as of Tuesday, according to astronomy site EarthSky.
The asteroid’s visit comes a month after it was discovered by astronomers on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands off the west coast of Morocco.
• Brad Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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