An asteroid will pass Earth tonight. Can we watch it from Hauts-de-France?

Tonight, at 9:51 p.m. UTC, an asteroid that scientists have classified as “potentially dangerous” will pass very close – on a spatial scale – to Earth. Don’t panic, ‘very close’, it’s just under 2 million km away, so there’s no risk of collision. But will we be able to watch it from Hauts-de-France? Yes, but with conditions.

It would be complicated for the general publicAndré Amossé, responsible for the scientific mediation of Villeneuve d’Ascq Science Forum. On the other hand, it will interest amateur astronomers equipped “, This means having a powerful enough telescope, with a telescope of at least six inches.

In fact, as detailed in NASA observation siteAsteroid 7498 (1994 PC1) is three times larger than the Eiffel Tower and more than one kilometer in diameter, and can accommodate about ten football fields. However, it is only weakly luminous and therefore will not be visible to the naked eye.

To put all chances in your favor, it is absolutely necessary.”Stay away from any major city by at least thirty or forty kilometers, being careful not to get too close to another major city“.

If we go for example to South LilleAndré Amossé, himself an amateur astronomer, explains, You don’t have to go away like Valencia“According to him, it is possible that there are several observation posts in the north and the Pas-de-Calais, and the ideal is”South of the North County, at Avesnois, in the open field between two villages or near Hesdin in the Seven Valleys. or between Saint-Omer and the Côte d’Opale, without getting too close to the well-lit coast. “

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Asteroid 7498 (1994 PC1) is part of the Near Earth family,”Those who can fall on us‘ sums up Andrei.

Most asteroids, explains Alain Vienne, director of the University of Lille Observatory, They are objects that come from the main belt between Mars and Jupiter. But some near-Earth cruisers venture not far from Earth’s orbit. As a result, they represent potential threats to humans. “

However, we are far from the movie disaster scenario do not search employment Netflix, where a comet rushes towards Earth. According to NASA, there is no risk of a collision.

It must be said that an asteroid advancing at an average speed of 20 kilometers per second will pass at a distance of 0.01325 astronomical units, which is about 1.93 million kilometers from Earth, which is five times the distance between Earth and the Moon.

Fortunately, he passed away, Alan Vienne rejoices, Because from 50 meters in diameter, when an asteroid falls, the damage can be significant. It was certainly the size of the meteor that exploded in 1908 in the sky of Tunguska in central Siberia. An estimated 60 million trees were destroyed within a radius of 25 km. “

To monitor the 1994 PC1, it will be necessary above all to be patientAndre Amos adds, because even if we are in the right place, we still have to wait for him to move into our field of view. This asteroid remains a point, and we will only see it by shifting it. “

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What’s interesting is that some amateur astronomers are trying to collaborate with professional research and will accurately observe the location of the asteroid throughout its path – which we can already do Online Monitoring, in real time.

More of our elevatorsAndrei explains, The more precise we are, the more scientists will be able to run their computers with equations of motion for celestial bodies to see how this path might evolve in the future.. “

An observation that contributes to the necessary observation of asteroids to anticipate their potential impact and be able to avoid it. To date, the scientific community has identified approximately 25,000 celestial bodies larger than one kilometer.

Unfortunately, in astronomy, the sky decides. And this evening, especially hazy in Hauts-de-France … Fortunately for enthusiasts, this asteroid – whose next pass near Earth is expected in only 84 years – will be visible from your living room, thanks to the project Virtual telescope and its webtvFrom 8 pm

To see the calendar for the following astronomical phenomena, go to IMCC siteInstitute of Celestial Mechanics and Ephemeris Calculation.

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