The “City Killer” asteroid is near, but there is no need to fear

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — An asteroid large enough to wipe out a city will glide harmlessly between Earth and the Moon’s orbit this weekend, missing both celestial bodies.

Saturday’s close encounter will give astronomers the chance to study a space rock just over 100,000 miles (168,000 kilometers) away. It’s less than half the distance from here to the moon, making it visible through binoculars and small telescopes.

Although asteroid flybys are common, NASA said it’s rare for one this big to come close – about once a decade. Scientists estimate its size somewhere between 130 feet and 300 feet (40 meters and 90 meters).

Discovered a month ago, the asteroid known as 2023 DZ2 will pass within 320,000 miles (515,000 kilometers) of the Moon on Saturday and, hours later, buzz in the Indian Ocean at around 17,500 mph (28,000 km/h).

“There’s no chance this ‘city killer’ will hit Earth, but its close approach provides an excellent opportunity for observations,” European Space Agency chief of planetary defense Richard Moissl said. in a press release.

Astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network see it as good practice for planetary defense if and when a dangerous asteroid is heading our way, according to NASA.

The Virtual Telescope Project will provide a live webcast of the close approach.

The asteroid won’t come our way again until 2026.

Although there initially seemed to be a slight chance that it could hit Earth, scientists have since ruled that out.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department is supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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