Three-Mile Asteroid Is About to Buzz the Earth

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Florence is half the diameter of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, but if it ever hit the Earth it would be the worst day in the lives of every living being and for most the last one.

If scientists were able to spot an asteroid before it crashed into Earth, the public would likely hear from NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office, which is dedicated to spotting and formulating responses to objects that might come in contact with our planet. There's no need to worry, though - the asteroid, dubbed Florence, will pass at a safe distance of 4.4 million miles, roughly 18 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

This relatively close encounter provides an opportunity for scientists to study this asteroid up close. Friday's flyby will be Earth's closest encounter with the asteroid since 1890, and the closest it will be to our planet until after 2500.

Named Asteroid 3122 Florence after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, this will be the largest heavenly body to sail near Earth since the 1990s, when NASA first started tracking such phenomena.

During late August and early September, the near-Earth asteroid 3122 Florence passes Earth as close as 4.4 million miles from Earth.

Backyard observers ready to view asteroid's close flyby
Three-Mile Asteroid Is About to Buzz the Earth

Renowned asteroid hunter Schelte J. Bus had discovered the asteroid 3122 Florence (1981 ET3) with the help of Sliding Spring Observatory in Australia back on March 2nd, 1981. They hope to get surface details up to around 30 feet and an accurate size.

Amateur astronomers will be able to view the asteroid, Kelly Beatty, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine, said.

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.

S&T has made four detailed charts that show how the asteroid will be moving south to north through the Capricornus, Aquarius, Delphinus, Vulpecula, and Cygnus constellations.

The best moment to see the asteroid from the USA will be 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday, according to S&T, as this is when the asteroid will pass much dimmer stars.

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