October 13th, 2012 by James Ayre
A newly discovered asteroid larger than a house will zoom by the Earth tonight, Friday October 12th, getting closer to us than the moon. There is no danger of it hitting the Earth though, according to NASA.
The asteroid has been named 2012 TC4. It’s around 56 feet wide and will travel on its course as close as 59,000 miles from the Earth on Friday. That is around one-fourth of the distance from the Earth to the moon.
“There are two live webcasts of the asteroid today (Oct. 11). The Virtual Telescope Project and Slooh Space Camera, two groups that offer live telescope views of space via the Internet, will be providing the asteroid imagery,” Space.com wrote.
“Asteroids are very intriguing bodies, strongly connected with the origin of our solar system. When an asteroid approaches our planet, we have good chances to study them better, especially small ones.
“The Slooh Space Camera views of asteroid 2012 TC4 will be webcast later today at 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) and will be available here.”
“One of our missions at Slooh is to provide the public with free, live coverage of amazing celestial events,” said Slooh President Patrick Paolucci in a statement. “We will be tracking asteroid 2012 TC4 live from our observatory located on the Canary Islands – off the coast of West Africa.”
“It may even be possible for seasoned amateur astronomers to see asteroid 2012 TC4 using a small telescope,” Space.com added.
The website Spaceweather.com says that the asteroid “will be close enough to photograph through backyard telescopes as it brightens to approximately 14th magnitude.”
“Magnitude is a scale used by astronomers to measure the brightness of objects in the night sky. The lower the magnitude number, the brighter the object.”
“Asteroid 2012 TC4 is one of two asteroids to pass Earth inside the moon’s orbit this week. On Sunday (Oct. 7), an even larger space rock — the 100-foot-wide (32-meter) asteroid 2012 TV —passed Earth at a range of 158,000 miles (255,000 km), or about 0.7 times the distance from Earth to the moon. The moon is on average about 238,000 miles (383,000 km) from Earth.”
“NASA and astronomers regularly monitor the skies for near-Earth asteroids because of the potential threat a large asteroid strike could pose to our planet. NASA’s Asteroid Watch program is based at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.”
“We get passes between Earth-moon fairly frequently actually, although usually smaller space rocks,” Asteroid Watch scientists wrote this week on Twitter while discussing asteroid 2012 TV.
Image Credits: Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project
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