Asteroid Flyby This Weekend!

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NASA’s Keeping an Eye on Two Asteroids Coming Close Tomorrow

For astronomers at NASA’s asteroid monitoring team, this weekend will be something of a reunion. Two asteroids that the team has observed before are swinging by for a weekend visit. Don’t worry, they won’t hit us or anything. But they will be close enough that the team and other astronomers—pros and those amateurs with the means—will be able to get a good look at the pair as they zip by tomorrow. Unfortunately for those of us in the western hemisphere, the asteroid flyby will happen tomorrow during daylight hours

The first asteroid, known to its fans as 2010 CO1 (I know, sexy, right?), is set to buzz our tower around 11:42 am (EDT). Its wingman, the Iceman to its Maverick, 2000 QW7 will make its flyby closer to dark at approximately 7:54 pm (EDT). Now, in my personal neck of the woods, I won’t be able to see either (Aww, thanks! I can feel your sympathy from here). However, if you live on the east coast at more southerly latitudes, you may be able to catch a glimpse.

So How Close is this Asteroid Flyby?

CO1 is a pretty big asteroid, and kind of a superstar in the asteroid community. It comes by us frequently, so we have a pretty good idea of its behavior and trajectory. It measures between 400 and 850 feet across, approximately. In fact, it’s been making fairly annual visits for a while now. Last year it showed up on September 11th, and next September astronomers expect it to return. 

QW7, however, is a much bigger rock, and its visits are rarer. The last time we saw this rock star (Ha! Get it? Rock star! Okay, sorry for the pun humor and inappropriate metaphors.) was when it was first discovered in 2000. And it isn’t planning a reunion tour until 2038 or so. Also, it measures twice the size of CO1, so astronomers are especially eager to study it every time it passes by.

Even though these are very big rocks, both are expected to be roughly 3.5 million (14 lunar distances) away when they pass by. And while some space journalists and NASA officials say there’s “no” chance of them hitting us, I never count Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Steve Buscemi out. Gorram it! I did it again with the Armageddon references. Sorry.

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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