Talk about a close shave!
An asteroid 100 feet wide is set to squeak past the Earth early Wednesday evening, soaring fewer than 218,000 miles from our planet -- slightly closer than the orbit of the moon itself.
Called asteroid 2014 DX110, the extraterrestrial visitor will stay a safe distance away from our planet, experts say. But as it barrels by at 33,000 miles per hour, the comet will present quite a spectacle. You’ll be able to watch the flyby in a live webcast directly through the website of the Slooh space telescope, as well as the VirtualTelescope.com site.
"We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids — sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth," Slooh's technical and research director, Paul Cox said in a statement a few weeks ago, before a very similar asteroid was discovered zipping past our planet.
"Slooh’s asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with Slooh members using the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this huge population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We need to find them before they find us!"
DX110 will make its closest pass at 5:07 p.m. EST.
The flyby of DX110 comes just over a year after two major near-Earth object (NEO) events on Feb. 15, 2013. That day, as scientists were tracking the extremely close pass of the 98-foot asteroid 2012 DA14, another, unrelated space rock unexpectedly exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia, causing substantial damage to buildings that injured more than 1,000 people with falling glass.
"On a practical level, a previously-unknown, undiscovered asteroid seems to hit our planet and cause damage or injury once a century or so, as we witnessed on June 20, 1908 and February 15, 2013," Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. "Every few centuries, an even more massive asteroid strikes us — fortunately usually impacting in an ocean or wasteland such an Antarctica."
"But the ongoing threat, and the fact that biosphere-altering events remain a real if small annual possibility, suggests that discovering and tracking all NEOs, as well as setting up contingency plans for deflecting them on short notice should the need arise, would be a wise use of resources."