This weekend, an asteroid large enough to destroy a city will pass harmlessly between the orbits of the moon and the Earth, obliterating both celestial bodies.
Thanks to Saturday’s comparative approach, astronomers can examine a space rock from just over 100,000 miles (168,000 kilometers). Binoculars and handheld telescopes can see the moon at that distance, less than half the distance between us and the moon.
Although asteroid flybys are frequent, according to NASA, it only happens approximately once every ten years for one to be so large.
Scientists estimate its size to be between 130 and 300 feet (40 and 90 meters).
The asteroid 2023 DZ2, discovered a month ago, will buzz the Indian Ocean at around 17,500 mph on Saturday and come within 320,000 miles (515,000 kilometers) of the moon (28,000 kph).
Richard Moissl, head of planetary defense at the European Space Agency, said in a statement that there is no chance that this “city killer” will strike Earth, but its nearest approach presents a fantastic opportunity for observations.
According to NASA, astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network view it as valuable training for planetary defense if a dangerous asteroid approaches our planet.
A live webcast of the close approach will be made available through the Virtual Telescope Project.
We won’t see the asteroid again until 2026. Scientists have already ruled that out, even though there once appeared to be a slight chance it might strike Earth.