A large asteroid gets closer to Earth

James Marshall
August 31, 2017

On the first of September an asteroid almost 3 miles wide will fly past Earth at a distance of 4.4 million miles. Florence is among the largest near-Earth asteroids that are several miles in size; measurements from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and NEOWISE mission indicate it's about 2.7 miles (4.4 kilometers) in size.

The total solar eclipse might be over, but there's another historic astronomical event taking to the skies this weekend: On September 1, a massive asteroid will fly past Earth.

The 2017 encounter is the closest by this asteroid since 1890 and the closest it will ever be until after 2500.

The large near-Earth asteroid Florence will fly safely by Earth on September 1, 2017 at a range of 4.4 million miles (7 million kilometers).

Florence, named after Florence Nightingale, was discovered by US astronomer Schelte "Bobby" Bus in 1981 while he was working at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Scientists with NASA say it's the largest object to fly that close to our planet since the space agency started tracking near-Earth asteroids.

Although it will be relatively close it is still a really, really, long way away so there is no danger to people on Earth. Astronomers will use the Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to study the asteroid.

Florence is not expected to return in the vicinity land before October 2024 and will return not as close to our planet before five hundred years, said Nasa.

"The resulting images should allow one to determine the precise dimensions of the asteroid and could also reveal details of its surface with an accuracy of ten meters", said Nasa.

Asteroids are small, natural rocky bodies that travel around the Sun.

Florence will reach peak brightness on Thursday and Friday when it will be visible from North America at about 60 degrees above the southern horizon, Universe Today estimates.

"An especially good opportunity occurs at about 8pm Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday evening, September 2, when the asteroid crosses the quartet of 4th-magnitude stars that mark the head of Delphinus, the Dolphin", the statement said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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