Scientists spotted a football field-sized asteroid that is going to zip by our planet pretty soon. The asteroid will be at roughly half Earth’s distance from the moon at its closest distance from our planet. However, there’s no reason to worry.
Although asteroids coming close to Earth are no longer unusual and scary, judging by the number of asteroids that have passed next to our planet’s orbit just in this year alone, people still worry whether there would be an impact that could cause catastrophic consequences. Just recently, asteroid 2018 GE3 zipped by our planet and barely missed hitting it, and it was discovered only after it had already passed.
However, this time, it’s about a different space rock. The football field-sized asteroid is dubbed 2010 WC9. The 2010 sign means that it was initially detected in 2010, particularly on Nov. 30, by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. Back then, scientists were studying it until Dec. 1 of that same year, but then it became too far away to be monitored. Scientists, however, didn’t have enough time to figure out when it would return, as they couldn’t study and watch its orbit.
Almost eight years later, on May 8, astronomers managed to track down the asteroid, and after close observations they concluded it was 2010 WC9 that had returned. The football field-sized asteroid will fly closest to our planet on May 15, at 6:05 p.m. EDT, at about 126,419 miles from Earth, as per EarthSky.
However, does 2010 WC9 pose a danger to us? The asteroid is going to fly past the Earth at 28,000 miles per hour. Its measured size is from 60 meters by 130 meters, making it longer than a football field, which reaches 110 meters. When compared to other asteroids that have zipped by the Earth, 2010 WC9 is not a large one, although it’s larger compared to the Chelyabinsk meteor, that was 65 feet long. The asteroid injured more than a thousand people in Russia when it exploded and shattered glass in the city, after which it was named. Astronomers believe, however, that despite its larger size and the distance from our planet, it doesn’t pose danger and is likely going to just fly by.
Unfortunately, the asteroid 2010 WC9 is not going to be sufficiently bright enough to be visible in the sky to see with the naked eye. However, many amateur astronomers are going to get their telescopes out and should spot the asteroid at the right time.
Those who don’t have a telescope but would like to see the asteroid and make sure it won’t hit Earth can watch from the comfort of their homes, as Northolt Branch Observatories in London, England is going to broadcast live footage of the asteroid on its Facebook page on May 15.
The frequent flybys of asteroids raise questions of asteroid mining, suggesting that the space rocks could provide many financial and scientific possibilities. Recently, a famous scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson told CNBC that the world’s first trillionaire is likely going to be an asteroid-miner.