Thursday, 18 October, 2018

'Lost' asteroid to pass closely May 15

Orbit of asteroid 2010 WC9 via Asteroid Orbit View and Northolt Branch Observatories Orbit of asteroid 2010 WC9 via Asteroid Orbit View and Northolt Branch Observatories
Sandra Phillips | 14 May, 2018, 11:46

They didn't have enough observations to track its orbit fully and so predict its return.

Space rock "Asteroid 2010 WC9" will have a near-Earth encounter, about half the lunar distance, on 15 May, media reports said.

The asteroid 2010 WC9, discovered for the first time in the Catalina sky survey in Arizona on November 30, 2010, returned to another visit and will be delivered at an incredibly short distance from our half-moon. Astronomers think that in spite of its dimension as well as range to Earth, 2010 WC9 will securely zoom past the planet.

This will be the second time in a month that an asteroid has flown this close to Earth. This asteroid was "lost" and then found again.

Although it's larger than the Chelyabinsk meteor which entered the atmosphere and broke windows in six cities in Russian Federation, this asteroid will just graze past us. However, although significantly bigger than the 20-meter (or around 65 feet) Chelyabinsk meteor, 2010 WC9 will sweep past us without incident.

At 11.05 pm on 15 May, Asteroid 2010 WC9 will make its closest approach only 0.53 lunar distances (126.419 miles) from Earth. According to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, the flyby of 2010 WC9 will be the closest of an asteroid its size in nearly 300 years. The asteroid, which will fly past the Earth at 28,000 miles per hour, will measure from 60 meters to 130 meters, which may make it longer than football fields that stretch for 110 meters.

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Want to view the asteroid online?

"We are planning to broadcast this asteroid live to our Facebook page on the night of May 14, likely around midnight, if the weather forecast remains positive", Guy Wells, a specialist in observations of near-Earth objects at NBO, told EarthSky in an email.

"The asteroid will be moving quite rapidly (30 arc seconds per minute)". It can be inferred from this that the asteroid would pass somewhere midway in between the moon and the Earth.

An asteroid the size of a football field will have a close brush with Earth on Tuesday.

For those who would like to watch from the comfort of their own homes, Northolt Branch Observatories in London, England said that it will broadcast the asteroid live from its Facebook page.

We imaged this object twice: First on May 9, when it was still known by its temporary designation ZJ99C60; then again on May 10, after it was identified as asteroid 2010 WC9, which had been a lost asteroid for eight years.

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