An asteroid the size of a football field will fly by the Earth this week! Its size ranges from 197 to 427 feet (60-130 meters), making it possible to pass the closest ever on May 15. The observatory will stream it live on Facebook beginning Monday, May 14 at midnight local United Kingdom time, so viewers can see 2010 WC9 in space before it begins its approach past Earth.
The asteroid that would be moving at an estimated distance of about 203,453 kilometers (126,419 miles) could be reportedly witnessed even by the help of a small telescope. On May 8, 2018 - nearly eight years later - astronomers discovered an asteroid and gave it the temporary designation ZJ99C60.
Although it's larger than the Chelyabinsk meteor which entered the atmosphere and broke windows in six cities in Russian Federation, this asteroid will just graze past us.
Although 2010 WC9 is hurtling towards us at an incredible speed of 28,655 miles per hour (46,116 km/h), it's unlikely that the asteroid will change its trajectory. Although there is no risk of impact, this is one of the closest approaches of a space rock of that size. The 2010 WC9 is arriving within about "0.53 lunar-distances" from our planet.
Unfortunately, the asteroid will not light up brightly enough to be visible to the naked eye, but small telescopes could aid you in the endeavour.
"We are planning to broadcast this asteroid live to our Facebook page on the night of May 14, likely around midnight, if the weather forecast remains positive", Guy Wells, a specialist in observations of near-Earth objects at NBO, told EarthSky in an email. It can be inferred from this that the asteroid would pass somewhere midway in between the moon and the Earth.
"The broadcast will last less than 25 minutes, since the asteroid will cross our field of view during this time period".
"Our display will be updated every five seconds".
The object was first designated as ZJ99C60, but soon it was confirmed it was the lost asteroid 2010 WC9. "We are of course collecting astrometric data whilst this is happening, but the motion of the asteroid will be apparent every five seconds".
At the same time, the Northolt Branch Observatories (NBO) in London, England, will be live streaming the close encounter on its Facebook page.