Huge asteroid to pass by Earth on Friday morning
It seems that, each week, we hear of yet another asteroid passing close to Earth.
This time around, the news is even more interesting as Earth will be grazed by the biggest near-Earth object to pass this close since asteroids were discovered!
Get set for asteroid 1981 ET3, aka 3122 Florence, which is a huge 2.7 miles in diameter and will pass by on Friday about 5:06 a.m. Arizona time.
At that time, the asteroid will be in the southern sky, near the constellation of Aquarius.
The asteroid may be bright enough to be seen in a pair of binoculars, but a better bet would be to use a small telescope. Those of you with a moderate-sized telescope can use the ephemeris to zoom in on it.
The asteroid rotates on its own axis in a period of some 2.5 hours and may have smaller binary asteroids around it.
It will be tracked by large radio telescopes as it passes the Earth to determine its true shape.
Remember, there will be a nine-day old moon out, which will wash out many faint sky objects.
The asteroid was named in honor of the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale.
It is part of a group of asteroids that are known as near-Earth objects. The asteroid is traveling in space at well over 30,000 miles per hour and will come within some 4 million miles of Earth.
The size of the object is very similar to that as the extinction event asteroid that slammed into our planet some 65 million years ago.
Lucky for the Earth, we get a pass this time! Get your Dr. Sky August 2017 star chart.