Last week, astronomers discovered an unexpected asteroid flying through outer space that’s set to make an extremely close (but safe!) encounter flying by our planet. The flying rock will zoom by Earth at a (relatively close) distance, and you’ll be able to watch safely from home. Here’s how.
Which asteroid is flying by Earth, and when can I watch?
According to EarthSky.org, asteroid 2023 BU was first discovered on Jan. 21, 2023. It’s said to be approximately 12 to 28 feet in diameter, and it’s going to be “extremely close” to our planet at just 6,200 miles away from our bright blue orb. Although that sounds really far away, in the realm of space distance, it’s really close.
“That is also within the distance of one-quarter of Earth’s geostationary satellites,” EarthSky notes, “and less than three percent of the average distance between the Earth and the moon.”
When it flies by us, the asteroid will come within 2,174 miles above the Earth’s surface. You can watch when it’s at its closest on Jan. 26 at 21:17 UTC (4:17 p.m. EST).
How can I watch the asteroid flying by Earth with the kids?
If you and the kids love to watch everything in space, this is certainly an interesting opportunity, and the best way to watch will likely be online.
The Virtual Telescope Project is set with a live feed to allow you to tune in and watch the asteroid fly by in real time. The Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Ceccano, Italy, provides the service. It uses remotely operated telescopes, including one that can view the asteroid 2023 BU.
The live feed is scheduled to begin Thursday at 7:15 p.m. Universal Coordinated Time or 2:15 p.m. Eastern Time. You can tune in here for more details and to watch the live feed.