Space Research

Asteroid longer than a football field passed quite close to Earth on Tuesday

A 130m-wide asteroid, almost longer than a football field, passed quite close to the Earth on Tuesday, May 15, at 6:05 pm EDT.

Dubbed 2010 WC9, the asteroid in question was first detected by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona on Nov. 30, 2010. The scientists observed the asteroid until it became too faint to monitor. Finally, after almost eight years, astronomers again detected an asteroid on May 8, which they eventually figured out was the returning 2010 WC9.

According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, the asteroid was about 126,000 miles from Earth, about half the distance the moon is from us, on May 15. Notably, the 2010 WC9’s flyby will be the closest of an asteroid of its size in almost 300 years. It flew past Earth at an incredible 28,000 miles per hour, and is likely between 60 and 130 meters, maybe even longer than a football field that stretches for 110 meters.

2010 WC9 is likely bigger than the Chelyabinsk meteor that injured more than a thousand people in Russia. But, thankfully, astronomers said that 2010 WC9 flew safely past Earth. So, there’s nothing to worry about.

Notably, despite being big in size, the Asteroid 2010 WC9 isn’t bright enough to be visible to the human eye as it flies past Earth. Those interested in witnessing the asteroid’s flyby viewed it live online from the comfort of their own homes, all thanks to Northolt Branch Observatories in London. They broadcast the asteroid live on their Facebook page.

“We plan to broadcast this asteroid to our Facebook page if the weather forecast remains positive,” said Guy Wells from London’s Northolt Branch observatory.

The broadcast last for less than 25 minutes as the asteroid flew very fast (30 seconds of arc per minute). The movement of the asteroid occured every five seconds.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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