In a delightful news for space-lovers, a large near-Earth asteroid is all set to safely pass by our planet on September 1. The Asteroid, known as Florence, is currently at a distance of about 4.4 million miles, (7.0 million kilometers) from Earth. Indianexress.com reports that Florence is among the largest near-Earth asteroids to come this close since NASA set up its detection and tracking program. Here’s 5 interesting things you should know:
1) As per NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), the Asteroid measures about 4.4 kilometers in size. The passage of near-Earth asteroid will provide the scientists an opportunity to closely study the asteroid and know more about it.
2) As per NASA, the asteroid will be expected to be an excellent target for ground-based radar observations. The scientist may also get an opportunity to measure the exact size of Florence and could also provide insights on surface details as small as about 10 meters. “While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) was quoted as saying by Indian Express. “Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began,” he added.
3)The passage of Florence gains significance as it had earlier appeared close to earth in 1890, i.e, almost 127 years ago. Also, NASA says that is unlikely to come this close again before 2500.
4) For the sky-watchers, the asteroid will be visible to small telescopes in late August and early September. The view will be a bit clearer as the asteroid will begin to brighten to the ninth magnitude and continues to move through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Delphinus.
5) Florence was discovered by Schelte Bus in 1981 at Australia’s Siding Spring Observatory and was named in honor of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing.