Via David Freeman
A large asteroid and its tiny spouse moon will zoom harmlessly previous Earth this weekend.
The so-called binary asteroid, dubbed 1999 KW4, will make its closest method at 7:05 p.m. ET, when the paired items will probably be about three million miles from Earth and shifting at a pace of about 50,000 miles in step with hour.
Despite the fact that 1999 KW4 is designated a probably hazardous asteroid, there is no likelihood it is going to hit Earth. Even so, astronomers will probably be observing the flyby the usage of a mixture of Earth- and space-based telescopes — a part of an ongoing effort to make stronger our planetary defenses in opposition to catastrophic asteroid moves of the kind noticed in a demanding simulation carried out not too long ago in Washington.
“It is some of the closest binary flybys more than likely in contemporary historical past,” Vishnu Reddy, a planetary scientist on the College of Arizona in Tucson, stated. “That is what makes it an excessively attention-grabbing goal.”
Even at its closest method, the asteroid will probably be too faint to be noticed with the bare eye, in keeping with Reddy.
Asteroid 1999 KW4 used to be came upon Would possibly 20, 1999, on the Lincoln Close to-Earth Asteroid Analysis (LINEAR) facility close to Socorro, New Mexico, and has been studied broadly since then.
Observations display that the main, or Alpha, object is set zero.eight mile huge, formed like a spinning best with a outstanding ridge round its equator. The smaller, or Beta, object is kind of one-third the dimensions of the Alpha object and orbits the latter at a distance of about 1.6 miles.
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