A space rock of a diameter of about one mile will pass close by Earth this weekend. The asteroid is traveling with a speed of 48,000 mph, and it’s a binary asteroid system as it’s carrying its own moon along with it.
Space scientists dubbed the asteroid 199 KW4. Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Minor Planet Center has labeled the space rock as being a possible unpredictable object, but scientists assure us that we have nothing to be afraid of. It will pass by our planet at a distance of 4 million miles (7 million kilometers), which is the equivalent of approximately 20 times the interval between the Earth and the Moon.
This will be its second-closest passing that it has made in the last twenty years, and the closest it will go by our planet until the year 2036. The asteroid will also be from afar the most massive space rock to fly that close to us to equal the 20 lunar distances. Because it’s the type of asteroid that carries its moon with it, the object is classified by the scientific fields as a ‘binary asteroid system,’ as said by NASA.
A binary asteroid will pass by Earth this weekend
The Las Cumbres Observatory explains the appearance of the traveling system, saying that the main asteroid in the arrangement is slightly flattened at the poles and has a chain of mountains at its equator, surrounding the whole space rock. The mountain ridge firstly gives it an appearance of a walnut or a spinning top.
The European Space Agency or ESA has officially released a short animation of the traveling system snatched on May the 9th from one of the world’s observatories located on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean.
The binary asteroid’s passing near our planet will be visible with the naked eye starting with May the 24th and will end on May the 27th. If you don’t get the chance to see it this year, you’ll have to wait until 2036 when it again makes its pass nearby Earth.