Asteroid Passing Earth and Moon Today: NASA Tracks 2023 DZ2
A newly discovered asteroid more than 200 feet across will zoom between Earth and the Moon on Saturday afternoon in an event that NASA says only happens once a decade.
The asteroid, 2023 DZ2, was discovered in February by astronomers at the La Palma observatory in the Canary Islands, Spain, according to EarthSky. Since then, astronomers have been watching the asteroid to get a better idea of its size and orbit. NASA says the asteroid could measure between 134 and 305 feet in diameter.
The asteroid is expected to pass Earth about 100,000 miles away — about half the distance to the Moon — around 3:51 p.m. EDT, NASA announced on Twitter Saturday.
Although the asteroid will pass safely close to our planet, there is little chance that we will be able to make an impact in a few years. Here’s what you need to know about the asteroid:
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How far will asteroid 2023 DZ2 be from Earth?
2023 DZ2 was to miss Earth by 108,758 miles, NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies had said. For reference, the moon is 238,855 miles from Earth.
The asteroid is moving at 17,403 mph.
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Astronomers will observe 2023 DZ2
NASA said 2023 DZ2 will provide a “unique opportunity for science” because an asteroid of its size only makes a close approach about once a decade.
The agency said astronomers from the International Asteroid Warning Network will observe the approach to learn more about planetary defense, which NASA has been practicing with its DART spacecraft.
2023 DZ2 could hit Earth in 2026
This won’t be the only time 2023 DZ2 has a close encounter with our planet. EarthSky said early data showed the asteroid had a 1 in 38 million chance of hitting Earth on March 27, 2026.
NASA says an asteroid like 2023 DZ2, which is taller than 82 feet but smaller than 3,280 feet, “would likely cause local damage to the impact area.”
Close encounters of asteroids with Earth
Asteroids are constantly approaching Earth, and some do indeed hit our planet, though they usually turn into dazzling fireballs that don’t harm anyone.
Earlier this month, NASA said it was starting to monitor 2023 DW, an asteroid about 160 feet in diameter that has a “very low chance” of hitting our planet on February 14, 2046. But it will likely miss Earth by more than 1.1 million miles.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.