On March 21st, a Golden Gate Bridge-sized asteroid will whiz within 1.5 million kilometers of Earth, just close enough to see with a telescope. Asteroid 2001 FO32 will be the largest asteroid to glance by our planet in 2021, and if you don’t own a telescope, you can still watch the asteroid’s journey through the Virtual Telescope Project’s live feed.
An impact with Asteroid 2001 FO32 could cause mass destruction and rippling climate effects on Earth. While it isn’t the biggest asteroid we’ve encountered, Asteroid 2001 FO32 measures around a mile in length and flies at nearly 77,000 MPH. Thankfully, NASA says that we don’t need to worry about Asteroid 2001 FO32—not for another 200 years, at least.
You may have seen headlines about an #asteroid that will safely fly by Earth on March 21. While this asteroid, known as 2001 FO32, is large, it will safely zip past Earth at a distance of 1.3 million miles—five times further away than the Moon—and poses no risk of hitting Earth. pic.twitter.com/oZZG5UaFsf
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) March 8, 2021
Of course, finding a mile-wide rock that’s over a million kilometers away from Earth is like picking a needle out of a haystack, even with a good telescope. The asteroid will shine much dimmer than any star in our night sky, so you’re best off watching it through the Virtual Telescope Project’s live feed.
The Virtual Telescope Project live feed begins March 21st at 11pm ET (or March 22nd at 4am if you’re in the UK, where Virtual Telescope Project is based). The live feed is free to watch and will follow the asteroid until it’s too far to see, which will take a few hours.
Source: NASA via CNET