July 24, 2024

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Asteroids are passing close to Earth, and one of them is getting closer to us than the Moon.

Asteroids are passing close to Earth, and one of them is getting closer to us than the Moon.

In a rare celestial coincidence, two massive asteroids — one capable of destroying a city, the other big enough to obliterate the planet — are passing close enough to Earth to interest observers but posing no danger at all of colliding with us.

Asteroids in our neighborhood always intrigue us, but these two are special because of their timing, size, and orbits.

Their separate visits came 42 separate hours And in another coincidence, just before the New Year Asteroid DayThis is the annual celebration of Russian Day. Tunguska meteorite event In 1908, it was the largest asteroid impact in modern history.

Read more: When were asteroids discovered?

Although their orbits are astronomically close to us, neither has been visible to the naked eye.

When will the asteroid pass close to Earth?

One of them has already come and gone: Asteroid (415029) 2011 UL21A chunk of rock the size of Mount Everest passed close to Earth without incident on Thursday.

the second, Asteroid 2024 MKHe will arrive on Saturday morning.

Although it is much smaller than its companion, measuring between 400 and 850 feet across, 2024 MK will come very close to Earth. It will pass between us and the moon at a distance of about 180,200 miles. The moon is 238,900 miles from Earth.

Although 2011 UL21 was larger, it only came within 4.1 million miles of us.

How do asteroids compare in size?

2024 MK is roughly the size of Dimorphos, the asteroid that NASA used in its first successful planetary defense test about two years ago. The space agency slammed its 1,260-pound spacecraft into Dimorphos, 7 million miles away, changing its orbit by 32 minutes.

Where can I see asteroid 2024 MK?

You might be able to see the asteroid sometime on Saturday. A telescope or a pair of powerful binoculars.The Smithsonian magazine says Hawaiians and South Americans have the best viewing opportunities. It can also be seen from the southern continental United States. The asteroid’s closest approach was at 9:46 a.m. ET. It may be possible to see it. Saturday night after Sun set.

Contributed by: Sybille Mayes-Osterman

Source: USA TODAY Reporting & Research Network; NASA; ESA; earthsky.org; asteroidday.org; space.com; Reuters; sciencealert.com