Asteroid 2010 WC9 is Set to Fly Past Earth Tonight

An asteroid estimated to span between 170-400 feet across, known as asteroid 2010 WC9 is set to fly past Earth today.  At about 6:05 pm ET asteroid 2010 WC9 should pass at about half the distance to the Moon when it’s at its closest.

Although it is between the size of New York’s statue of Liberty and Italy’s leaning tower of Pisa, for an asteroid It’s not actually that big, but this will be a pretty close encounter for a space rock of this size.

Astronomer Guy Wells, of the Northolt Branch Observatories in London, told Newsweek that there are many close approaches from asteroids, but most are very small. Only very few objects of that size have ever been seen coming closer than the Moon.

Even though 2010 WC9 will be approaching Earth quite closely there is no risk to our planet because its trajectory will not bring it close enough to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere.

As reported by EarthSky, you won’t be able to see the asteroid without a telescope. However, if you point a small telescope in precisely the right direction at exactly the right time, you should be able to catch a glimpse of the asteroid through your lens. Furthermore, according to EarthSky 2010 WC9, is moving at about 28,655 miles per hour, which sounds fast but is only one-tenth the speed of a bolt of lightning.

2010 WC9 actually has a history with astronomers who discovered the asteroid back in 2010 but then “lost” it for almost eight years. The asteroid grew very faint and their telescopes could no longer see the space rock, as EarthSky reported. But, on May 8, 2018, astronomers noticed an asteroid which they temporarily named ZJ99C60. However, they soon realized it was the long-lost 2010 WC9, and reverted back to its original name.

Asteroids make for great astronomy targets, but they also offer potentially huge financial and scientific opportunities. Neil DeGrasse Tyson recently told CNBC that the world’s first trillionaire would likely be an asteroid miner.





Image Credit: Oliver-Denker / Shutterstock


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