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Asteroid 2010 WC9 to flyby Earth on May 15

15 May 2018
Asteroid 2010 WC9 to flyby Earth on May 15

To put that in perspective, look at it as the Statue of Liberty slinging past Earth's surface hundreds and thousands of miles away.

However, an asteroid discovered earlier this month - ZJ99C60, spotted on May 8 - turned out to be a blast from the past as astronomers realized it was actually 2010 WC9 coming back after nearly eight years. According to calculations at NASA, this will be the asteroid's closest Earth flyby in almost 300 years.

2010 WC9 poses no threat to the Earth. Although there is no risk of impact, this is one of the closest approaches of a space rock of that size. That's only roughly five times the distance of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. Using the data acquired so far, scientists have calculated 2010 WC9's orbit to 2158 and this is the closest it will come to Earth with that timeframe.

Interested in watching 2010 WC9 on its approach to flyby? 2010 WC9 will make a particularly close approach on May 15th, at a distance of 203,000 km from Earth (0.00136 AU, about half the distance to the Moon).

"2010 WC9 will be brighter than 11th magnitude at closest approach, making it visible in a small telescope".

The southern hemisphere passage of asteroid 2010 WC9 on May 15th from 19:00 to 23:00 UT.

"The broadcast will last less than 25 minutes, since the asteroid will cross our field of view during this time period".

Asteroids keeping passing through the universe every now and then.

The webcast will feature live views of 2010 WC9 captured by four different telescopes at Slooh's observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, Slooh representatives said.

"How do you 'lose an asteroid?". It was watched over till December 2010 after which it became faint.

Not to worry: There's no chance the asteroid will hit us.

"We have discussed unusual objects 2010 with WC9 with EarthSky!".

Clouded out, or live in the wrong hemisphere?

This asteroid is too small to be visible to the naked eye, but it can nevertheless already be seen on a video made by Northolt Branch Observatories, located in London.

Central Time: 5:15 p.m.

There's no word yet if Arecibo radar plans to ping 2010 WC9 over the coming days, but if they do, so expect to see an animation soon.