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A newly discovered asteroid will safely whiz by Earth this weekend, as the 115-foot space rock approaches us at a staggering 17,000 mph.
The large near-Earth asteroid titled 2023 DZ2, nicknamed Dizzy, will “get very close” but it won’t crash into Earth, according to astronomy experts.
While close approaches are a regular occurrence, one by an asteroid of this size happens only about once per decade.
“This is the kind of encounter that happens about once a decade, so it’s not once in a lifetime but it doesn’t happen every day,” Davide Farnocchia, navigation engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told the Herald on Wednesday.
The exceptionally close and rare approach to Earth will happen on Saturday, but the best time to try to get a look at Dizzy will be Friday night.
“You would need to have a pretty good telescope to see it because it won’t be bright enough to see with the naked eye,” said John Boisvert, curriculum director for Slooh, which offers live online telescope feeds of major celestial events.
“It’s going to get very close as it passes between the Earth and Moon,” Boisvert added. “We know it won’t crash into the Earth, which is a very good thing.”
At its closest approach to Earth, the asteroid will be less than half the distance to the Moon — around 108,539 miles — a mere stone’s throw in celestial terms.
“The story would be a lot different if 2023 DZ2 were arriving 19 hours later — it would impact Earth because that’s where their two orbits intersect,” said Slooh astronomer Paul Cox.
The asteroid is double the size of the Chelyabinsk asteroid that caused widespread damage when it exploded in an air burst a decade ago in February 2013. There is a minuscule risk that Dizzy will impact Earth on March 27, 2026, but further observations are likely to rule out this 1-in-38 million chance.
This close approach will provide a good opportunity to study the asteroid.
“Astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network are using this close approach to learn as much as possible about 2023 DZ2 in a short time period — good practice for #PlanetaryDefense in the future if a potential asteroid threat were ever discovered,” NASA Asteroid Watch tweeted.
Recently, NASA said it was tracking a new asteroid named 2023 DW that had a very small chance of impacting Earth on Valentine’s Day in 2046.
As scientists received more data about that 2046 asteroid, they were able to “rule out any possible impact” from that asteroid on Feb. 14, 2046, Farnocchia said on Wednesday.
Although Dizzy will be closest to Earth on Saturday at 3:51 p.m., it is well-placed for observation from Slooh’s Canary Islands and Chile observatories as it approaches on Friday.
Slooh will be livestreaming the upcoming close approach of Dizzy on Friday at 8 p.m. The public can watch the broadcast on Slooh’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/@SloohLive.
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