Lost asteroid returns to Earth

Rosemary Collier
May 15, 2018

While there is no reason for concern about it hitting the Earth - NASA has determined that it poses no threat - it will be one of the closest passes of an asteroid this size yet observed. The asteroid remained hidden from view until just last week.

The Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona first detected the asteroid on November 30, 2010. Scientists, however, didn't have enough time to figure out when it would return, as they couldn't study and watch its orbit.

The "lost" asteroid was rediscovered on May 8, nearly eight years after it vanished from observations.

An asteroid that's supposed to be longer than a football field is expected to whiz by Earth May 15.

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The asteroid will reach its closest point to Earth, 126,419 miles away, at approximately 6:05 p.m. ET. As of December 2017, Dr. Amy Mainzer - an asteroid expert at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory - reported that "there are no objects that have been identified that are known to be on a collision course with Earth".

Astronomers estimate the asteroid to be 71 metres in diameter (though it could be larger).

The 2010 WC9 asteroid is most likely bigger than the Chelyabinsk meteor, which injured more than 1,000 people and shattered glass when it broke up over the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013. 2010 WC9 is on the small side as far as asteroids go, measuring between 197 to 427 feet. The space rock was only recently rediscovered. While viewable with a telescope, EarthSky says that "at no time will it be visible to the eye as it sweeps past Earth".

Asteroid 2010 WC9 is travelling though space at a speed of 28,655 miles per hour (46,116 km/h). In addition, Slooh astronomers Paul Cox and Paige Godfrey will discuss and answer viewer questions about the asteroid and its trajectory. So if you are deeply interested in the space rock flybys, then you can tune into the facebook page. The asteroid will be moving quite rapidly (30 arcseconds per minute).

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"Our Astrometric information while this occurs, but the motion of the asteroid will happen every five minutes", explained Wells.

Daniel Bamberger, also at Northolt Branch Observatories, sent along the two images below. On May 8, astronomers spotted the asteroid and gave it a new name before realizing it was 2010 WC9.

One of the ways this small asteroid is, "Earth Site EarthSky said".

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