While we are yet to call up the cast of Armageddon, an asteroid passing close to earth is understandably big news.
NASA has announced that this is precisely what is set to occur later today, with an asteroid passing within 3,500km of Earth’s surface.
The event will see the asteroid, dubbed ‘2023 BU’, become the fourth-closest space rock to pass near the planet, having been first spotted on January 21 this year.
In 2021, NASA and SpaceX ran a joint mission to divert the course of an asteroid by essentially crashing a satellite into its side.
So, for those turning their eyes to the heavens, is it possible to watch the event take place?
Here is what you need to know.
How to watch asteroid 2023 BU
According to Sky News, the asteroid pass will be streamed live using robotic telescopes.
The Virtual Telescope project will be broadcasting the asteroid pass live from 7.15pm tonight.
You can find the stream via the project’s website or its YouTube Channel.
The VTP is run by the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy.
When will the 2023 BU asteroid pass earth?
The space event is due to take place at just after midnight tonight (meaning it will stray into January 27).
It’s worth pointing out that this is nothing to be concerned about. 2023 BU is between 3.8 and 8.4 metres meaning it would incinerate upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Infact, any asteroid smaller than 25 metres is almost certain to have the same fate.
However, this asteroid is passing extraordinarily close – most satellites orbit the earth at around 35,000km, whereas 2023 BU will pass just 3,500km above the earth’s surface.
How to find out about asteroid passes?
NASA hosts an ‘Asteroid Watch’ dashboard on its website where it currently describes five upcoming space events.
The dashboard states that it ‘displays the next five Earth approaches to within 4.6 million miles (7.5 million kilometers or 19.5 times the distance to the moon); an object larger than about 150 meters that can approach the Earth to within this distance is termed a potentially hazardous object.’
‘The average distance between Earth and the moon is about 239,000 miles (385,000 kilometers).’
The dashboard lists two of the asteroids making approaches as being around the size of a car, and three as being the size of an airplane.
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