WC9 Asteroid Will Whiz Close To Earth On May 15th

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The orbital path of Asteroid 2010 WC9 (white line) almost intersects with that of Earth (blue line) tonight just after 6 p.m. EDT.

The space rock is believed to be equivalent in size to the one that exploded more than 100 years ago in Russia's Tunguska region in Siberia - the largest impact event on Earth in recorded history.

A preliminary analysis of the asteroid's orbit showed this was the closest 2018 GE has come to Earth since at least 1930.

The asteroid was first spotted by astronomers in 2010 and at the time, scientists were unable to track its orbit around the sun.

An asteroid of a similar size passed by our planet just in April.

According to EarthSky, it's traveling at speeds of more than 28,600 miles per hour.

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Asteroid 2010 WC9, whose size is estimated to range between 197 to 427 feet, will pass at about half the moon's distance from Earth making the flyby one of the closest approaches for an asteroid this size.

The asteroid of 18 magnitudes is fainting and now at +15 mag. Experts suggest it might get as bright as +11 mag when it closely passes from the Earth. The space rock was only recently rediscovered. After just 21 hours after the asteroid was observed in the laboratory in Arizona, it is closer to Earth at a distance of less than 200 thousand kilometers.

"2010 WC9 is expected to reach 11th magnitude on the day of closest approach (May 15th), bright enough to be seen with a small telescope".

Astronomers discovered asteroid 2010 WC9 on November 30, 2010. The asteroid will be moving quite rapidly (30 arcseconds per minute).

We imaged this object twice: First on May 9, when it was still known by its temporary designation ZJ99C60; then again on May 10, after it was identified as asteroid 2010 WC9, which had been a lost asteroid for eight years. If you don't have a telescope and want to snag a look, the Norholt Branch Observatories in London will be live-streaming a telescopic view of the astroid's approach on its Facebook page around 7 p.m. ET. "We, of course, collect astrometric data while this happens, but the movement of the asteroid will occur every five seconds", Guy Wells said in a press release.