Oh Florence, we really needed you this month. There’s a petulant species of brainy monkeys that just can’t seem to get along that probably deserves to be completely wiped out in a fiery collision. But there you go, flying right on by.
At three miles wide (4.8 km), Asteroid Florence is a biggie. In fact, it’s the largest asteroid to pass by at such a close distance since NASA began tracking near-Earth asteroids, Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a
The rock, named after Florence Nightingale by the way, will zoom by Earth on September 1st, 2017, getting as close as 4.4 million miles (7 million km) to our pathetic, deserving rock. As a comparison, the Moon is around 239,000 miles away, and Mars is 39 million miles away at
The International Space Station is 2.5 million miles.
Australian scientists first discovered Florence in 1981. This encounter is the closest since 1890, and it won’t come closer until 2500. Maybe
will have destroyed us by then. Fingers crossed!
NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies keeps track of the asteroids and comets that come close to our planet. Scientists study these rocks to help understand the origin and composition of the
cataloging the NEOs
is important to make sure we can predict if and when the big one will come and send us the way of the dinosaurs. Although I must say, I’m a big fan of surprises.
Anyway, if you have a telescope, you might be able to wave at Florence as she passes by in late August and early September. “[Its] visible magnitude of 9 is really bright,” Rudiger Jehn, co-manager of the Near Earth Object segment of the European Space Agency’s space situational awareness program told an email. “Every amateur astronomer will be able to see it.” The asteroid will pass through constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius and Delphinus, according to the NASA press release.