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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Watch live as an asteroid passes the earth in “very close” approach

A newly discovered asteroid will make its approach “very close” to Earth on Friday – and you can watch the space rock hurtling through space live online.

The asteroid, known as 2023 EY, will reach a minimum distance of about 149,000 miles from our planet on March 17, figures from NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) show.

While this may seem far away, astronomically this is considered a close encounter. To put the flyby into context, the space rock will zoom past us at less than two-thirds the average distance between Earth and the Moon.

The asteroid is estimated to be about 56 feet across, NASA figures show, making it comparable in size to a house.

Despite the fact that it will fly by Earth on Friday, 2023 EY was only spotted on March 13 – just four days before it encountered our planet. The asteroid was spotted by a telescope at Sutherland Observation Station in South Africa.

The asteroid is one of more than a dozen that have approached Earth within one lunar distance — an average of 238,855 miles — this year. All of these space rocks, including 2023 EY, were small, harmless asteroids.

The orbit of 2023 EY has been calculated accurately, so there is no chance that the object will collide with our planet. But if an asteroid that size were on a collision course with Earth, there would be little to worry about.

According to NASA, space rocks less than 25 meters (about 82 feet) in diameter will most likely burn up as they enter Earth’s true atmosphere, causing little to no damage to the ground.

At the time of approach, 2023 EY will be traveling at about 18,100 miles per hour. That’s about nine times faster than a bullet.

The Virtual Telescope Project (VTP) will provide a live stream that will allow viewers to watch the asteroid as it zooms past Earth. The leader of the project, Gianluca Masi, described the approach as “very close” in an email to . news week.

The VTP is a service of the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Ceccano, Italy, which operates and provides access to remotely operated telescopes.

The live stream begins March 17 at 12:00 AM Universal Coordinated Time or March 16 at 8:00 PM Eastern Time.

The VTP also hosted a live stream of another small asteroid that was still approaching in January this year, and Masi managed to capture some “extraordinary” images.

Known as 2023 BU, this space rock flew by us at an altitude of only about 2,500 miles above the ground.

This flyby was the fourth closest of more than 35,000 past and future Earth approaches in the CNEOS database, which contains data for the 300 years from 1900 to 2200. The approach was less than 3 percent of the average distance between Earth and the moon.

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