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A large asteroid is about to graze on Earth, more than two million kilometers away

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Jillian Castillo
Jillian Castillo
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The largest asteroid nurturing Earth in 2021 will pass “soon” from us this Sunday, about two million kilometers away, without any risk of collision. But the event will allow astronomers to study the celestial body.

It is called 2001 FO32 and has a diameter of less than a kilometer, and it will orbit at 124,000 km / h, “faster than most asteroids” that pass near Earth, according to NASA.

The rocky body, which was not on its first visit, is scheduled to pass near our planet this Sunday at 4:02 pm GMT (5:02 pm Paris time). Then it will be 2016 158 km from Earth, or about five times the distance between Earth and the moon.

“There is no danger of colliding with our planet,” the US space agency reassures. Its course is “well known and sufficiently regulated” to exclude any risk, and this is guaranteed to the experts of the Paris-PSL Observatory.

However, a large rocky body is classified as “potentially dangerous”, as are all asteroids with an orbit less than 19.5 times the distance between Earth and the moon and over 140 meters in diameter.

This category is “a relentless pursuit by astronomers around the world to prepare the most comprehensive inventory possible,” as the observatory confirms, noting that the first – and largest – asteroid, Ceres, was discovered in 1801 ..

The asteroid “2001 FO32” was first seen in 2001, and since then it has been closely watched. It belongs to the “Apollo” family of near-Earth asteroids, which orbit the sun in at least one year and can cross the Earth’s orbit.

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“Currently, not much is known about this object, so this close passage gives us a great opportunity to learn a lot,” said Lance Penner, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which the study center relies on. .

According to CNEOS, “amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere and at low northern latitudes should be able to see it.” “We will have to wait until it gets dark and arm ourselves with a good telescope with a diameter of at least 20 cm,” Florent Delphi told AFP from the Paris Observatory.

“We should see a white point moving like a satellite,” the astronomer added. The path has nothing to do with the path of the stars, and they are very small asteroids that form a light line dividing the sky in a split second.

There is no chance any of Earth’s large asteroids will crash into the next century.

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