Asteroid will pass between the Earth and the Moon this weekend

An asteroid big enough to level a city will pass between Earth and the Moon’s orbit this weekend without touching any of the celestial bodies.

Saturday’s close encounter will offer astronomers the opportunity to study a space rock just over 100,000 miles (168,000 kilometers) away. That’s less than half the distance between Earth and the Moon, so it will be visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

Although asteroid close-bys are common, NASA said it’s rare for one this big to come this close, happening about once every decade. Scientists estimate their size at between 40 and 90 meters (130 and 300 feet).

The asteroid known as 2023 DZ2 was discovered a month ago and will pass within 515,000 kilometers (320,000 miles) of the Moon on Saturday, and over the Indian Ocean several hours later at a speed of about 28,000 kilometers per hour (17,500 miles per hour).

“There is no chance of this ‘city killer’ hitting Earth, but its proximity offers a great opportunity for observations,” Richard Moissl, director of planetary defense at the European Space Agency, said in a statement.

Astronomers at the International Asteroid Warning Network consider it good practice for planetary defense in case a dangerous asteroid is headed our way, according to NASA.

The Virtual Telescope Project will offer a live webcast of the asteroid’s passage.

The asteroid will not cross our path again until 2026. Although at first there seemed to be a possibility that it could hit Earth, scientists have ruled it out.

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