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Sep 14

80 minutes from now, an asteroid will pass so close to earth that home astronomers will be able to see it, writes Salon. Slashdot reader PolygamousRanchKid shares their report:

Experts say the asteroid, known as Asteroid 2000 QW7, will miss our planet by about 3 million miles — around 14 times the distance between the Earth and the moon. And while that distance is astonishingly close on an astronomical scale, it does not suggest that the asteroid is going to hit Earth — although it has a small chance to strike our planet in the future. The closeness of its pass on Saturday will allow astronomers to hone their measurements of its trajectory, allowing for more accurate calculations of its strike probability in the future.

Gianluca Masi, Scientific Director at The Virtual Telescope, told Salon in a statement that amateur astronomers can view its fly-by, which is at 7:54 pm on the East Coast, but will have to have a telescope with a diameter of at least 250 millimeters. [Heres’ the telescope-positioning coordinates.] Masi said a smaller telescope might work if combined with a sensitive imaging device that can also record its apparent motion across the stars…

NASA released a statement this week to the public to emphasize it is not a threat, noting that it is actually one of two asteroids to pass Earth this weekend. The second asteroid, asteroid 2010 C01, is estimated to be 120 to 260 meters in size (400 to 850 feet).
The first asteroid’s diamter is between 300 and 600 meters — so up to 1968 feet, or a little more than one-third of a mile.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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