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Asteroid Florence Pays Earth a Visit

Postby MrFredPFL » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:22 am

Story : http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/see-asteroid-florence-fly-by-earth-this





The beat goes on! No sooner is the total solar eclipse over and here comes a big, bright, near-Earth asteroid to shake things up again. 3122 Florence, one of the largest near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), will safely fly past the planet at a distance of about 7 million km (4.4 million miles) around 8 a.m Eastern Daylight Time (12:00h UT) on September 1st.

I know what you're thinking. There's no way we'll see this given the time of day. Your skepticism is warranted. Lots of these Earth-approachers are only visible for a matter of hours in amateur scopes before they precipitously fade from view. They're just so tiny and move so fast. Not Florence. It's neither tiny nor in a terrible hurry. Matter of fact, it's a beast — at least for a near-Earth object — with a diameter of 4.4 km (2.7 miles). And it's not moving so fast that you need a handful of maps to tail it.

“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.”

That's why I've got some great news. Florence shines at peak magnitude of 8.7 tonight (August 30th) and remains brighter than magnitude 10 through September 5th. That means that even with a semi-bright Moon in the sky, some of you will be able to pick it up in binoculars, and anyone with a 4-inch or larger telescope should kill it.







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