Tech & Science: Asteroid nearly a mile wide seen approaching with its own moon - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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Tech & ScienceAsteroid nearly a mile wide seen approaching with its own moon

06:00  22 may  2019
06:00  22 may  2019 Source:   cnet.com

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The largest asteroid to come near our cosmic neighborhood this year has its own moon . An asteroid nearly a mile (1.5 kilometers) wide is flying in for a visit soon and it ' s bringing its sidekick along for the ride. This will be the second-closest approach it ' s made in the past two decades, and

An asteroid nearly two miles wide will pass by Earth Friday and it will bring with it an unexpected guest: Its own 2,000-foot wide moon . The asteroid , named 1998 QE2, poses no threat to Earth and its closest pass – at 4:59 p.m. EDT - will be approximately 3.6 million miles from the planet .

Asteroid nearly a mile wide seen approaching with its own moon © CNET didymos-asteroid-system

A "potentially hazardous" asteroid and its smaller sidekick have been spotted from the ground coming in for flyby of our planet that will see the space objects pass by us safely on Friday.

The unnamed space rock designated as Asteroid (66391) 1999 KW4 is a binary system, meaning it's composed of one large asteroid orbited by a smaller moon. The larger half of the duo is nearly a mile (1.5 kilometers) wide, while its smaller satellite is about a third of a mile wide (0.5 kilometers). The asteroid was first discovered 20 years ago, and both backyard and professional astronomers are preparing to observe it as it makes its latest close approach May 25.

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Asteroid 1999 KW4 and its companion moon will approach Earth at a whopping 48,000 mph this week. Astronomers have tracked its orbit and say it should pass at a safe distance. Due to its sheer size and speed, the asteroid will be visible over Earth during the flyby.

An asteroid nearly two miles (three kilometers) wide is set to pass by Earth Friday with no risk of impact, offering scientists a rare chance to study a massive flying object with its own moon . "This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth for at least the next two centuries," NASA said.

Asteroid nearly a mile wide seen approaching with its own moon © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. 1999

The European Space Agency released a brief animation of the approaching system captured from an observatory on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean on May 9.

While its serious size has earned 1999 KW4 the title "potentially hazardous," it'll clear Earth this year at a very safe distance of 3,219,955 miles (5,182,015 kilometers). This will be the second-closest approach it's made in the past two decades, and the nearest it'll come to our planet until 2036. It'll also be by far the largest object to come within about 20 lunar distances (4,647,790 miles or 7,479,894 kilometers) of us this year.

The Las Cumbres Observatory describes the main asteroid in the system as "slightly squashed at the poles and with a mountain ridge around the equator, which runs all the way around the asteroid. This ridge gives the primary an appearance similar to a walnut or a spinning top."

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is a binary asteroid . In the near-Earth population, about 16 percent of asteroids that are about 655 Radar images suggest that the main body, or primary, is approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in distance between Earth and the moon . This is the closest approach the asteroid will make to Earth

Astronomers believe the little moon may be about 0.37 miles wide (about 600 meters). The asteroid itself is approximately 1.7 miles wide (2.7 kilometers) and has a rotation period of less than four hours. Nearly half a million daily subscribers love our newsletter. What are you waiting for?

Some of the world's largest telescopes, including the massive Arecibo radio observatory on Puerto Rico, will observe 1999 KW4 as it flies by to get more data on both rocks and the separation between them.

The system will be moving fast when it visits, at 48,123 miles per hour (77,446 kilometers per hour), which may make it easier for amateur observers to get a look at it. If you want to try to spot it, NASA solar system ambassador Eddie Irizarry has some tips and helpful charts to get you started over at EarthSky.

Astronomers captured an image of a double asteroid as it sped past Earth.
Astronomers eager to observe bizarre visitors to our neck of the Solar System were in for a real treat late last month as the rare double asteroid 1999 KW4 made a "close" pass of Earth at a distance of some 3.2 million miles. 

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