Mile-wide asteroid and its tiny moon to zoom past Earth this weekend – NBC News

A big asteroid and its tiny buddy moon will zoom harmlessly past Earth this weekend.

The so-called binary asteroid, dubbed 1999 KW4, will make its closest method at 7: 05 p.m. ET, when the paired items will have to do with 3 million miles from Earth and moving at a speed of about 50,000 miles per hour.

Though 1999 KW4 is designated a potentially harmful asteroid, there’s no chance it will hit Earth. Nevertheless, astronomers will be viewing the flyby using a combination of Earth- and space-based telescopes– part of a continuous effort to enhance our planetary defenses against devastating asteroid strikes of the sort seen in a troubling simulation performed just recently in Washington.

” It’s one of the closest binary flybys probably in recent history,” Vishnu Reddy, a planetary researcher at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said. “That’s what makes it a really interesting target.”

Even at its closest technique, the asteroid will be too faint to be seen with the naked eye, according to Reddy.

Asteroid 1999 KW4 was found May 20, 1999, at the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) facility near Socorro, New Mexico, and has actually been studied extensively ever since.

Observations reveal that the main, or Alpha, item has to do with 0.8 mile broad, shaped like a spinning top with a popular ridge around its equator The smaller, or Beta, object is approximately one-third the size of the Alpha object and orbits the latter at a range of about 1.6 miles.

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