Monster Asteroid to Whiz by Earth

A meteorite leaves a contrail over Chelyabinsk Feb. 15, 2013. (PHOTO: Yekaterina Pustynnikova, AP)
A meteorite leaves a contrail over Chelyabinsk Feb. 15, 2013. (PHOTO: Yekaterina Pustynnikova, AP)

Earth gets a close encounter Monday evening as an asteroid as big as three football fields whizzes by at 27,000 mph.

The asteroid isn’t a threat — it will miss the Earth by 2 million miles. Dubbed 2000 EM26, it’s about 885 feet in diameter

Earthlings can watch the fly-by on Slooh.com beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

Slooh is a robotic telescope service that is viewable online.

Asteroid 2000 EM26’s close pass will be watched by Slooh’s robotic telescope on Mount Teide in the Canary Islands.

The asteroid itself is “a little fainter than Pluto” and will show up as a white dot moving against the background of the stars, says Slooh astronomer Bob Berman.

“Of course, that’s if we can find it,” he said.

Which is what he finds interesting about this particular asteroid. It was first discovered in 2000 but when astronomers looked for it in 2006 and 2009 they couldn’t find it.

“The real story is this—here you have a potentially hazardous asteroid, but where the heck is it? Has its orbit been perturbed by a companion body or by passing too close to the sun?” Berman said.

“If we can’t even keep track of the ones we know about – I don’t even have to finish that sentence,” he said.

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SOURCE: USA Today
Elizabeth Weise

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