The biggest asteroid flyby of the year is Monday: how to look


NASA illustration

Asteroid 2021 EQ3 will pass closer than the moon.

NASA / JPL-Caltech

A particularly large asteroid will pass particularly close to Earth on Monday night, and the encounter will be streamed live online. Don’t worry: the flyby will be completely safe and does not pose any risk to anything or anyone on Earth or any of our satellites. But asteroid 2021 EQ3 will come closer to Earth than our only natural satellite.

Sky surveys and other telescopes detect a space rock that passes closer than the moon every few days, on average. Most of these asteroids are only a few meters in diameter, which probably doesn’t make them bigger than a bus.

However, asteroid 2021 EQ3 could be up to 38 meters (125 feet) in diameter, making it more like the size of a small apartment building. That is also roughly the same size as the meteoroid that crashed into the atmosphere over Russia in 2013, creating a shock wave that blew thousands of windows down in the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring hundreds.

2021 EQ3 will pass closest to us at approximately 9:45 p.m. Pacific time Monday night, at a distance of about 173,000 miles (278,000 kilometers), which is 72% of the distance from Earth to the Moon. .

This makes 2021 EQ3 the second largest object to come closer than the moon in 2021.

It is also different from 2001 FO32, which is an absolute monster with a diameter of about a mile. That asteroid will pass on March 21, but at a distance five times greater than the moon.

The asteroid’s size also makes it a good object to track, and the Rome-based Virtual Telescope Project will broadcast an observing feast online through its website.

Follow, continue CNET’s 2021 space calendar to stay up to date with the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.



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