Large Asteroid Set To Pass Between Earth And Moon
March 4, 2014

Large Asteroid Set To Pass Between Earth And Moon

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

An asteroid with a diameter about the size of an 80-story building is sweeping by Earth and the moon on Wednesday.

Asteroid 2014 CU13 was first discovered on February 11th by Mt. Lemmon Survey. Since then, the asteroid has been viewed over 230 times, but there still remains a lack of information in trying to pinpoint the space rock’s exact orbit.

Slooh will be attempting to offer up a webcast of the asteroid as it makes its closest approach to Earth on Wednesday night at a distance of only 0.9 Lunar Distances away. The company said that due to the orbit’s uncertainty, there is a “high probability we will not capture the asteroid during the broadcast. But given its proximity to Earth and timing with the CU13 broadcast, we wanted to try to image it for the public during its close-approach.”

The asteroid will be traveling at about 43,000 mph when it zooms by Earth at just 215,897 miles away. Slooh is asking amateur astronomers to help scientists pinpoint the asteroid’s orbit as it makes its way past the planet.

“We are going to rally citizen astronomers to help us help the Minor Planet Center and NASA/JPL track these Near­Earth Objects. As we’ve seen with Moby Dick, all the effort that went into its discovery is worthless unless follow­up observations are made to accurately determine their orbits for the future”, Paul Cox, Slooh Host and Observatory Director, said in a statement. “And that’s exactly what Slooh Members are doing with NEA 2014 CU13 ­ using Slooh’s robotic telescopes to accurately measure the precise position of this newly discovered asteroid. These observations have already helped reduce the uncertainty in its orbit, and establish better size estimates for this particular asteroid."

Cox will be hosting the online broadcast along with special Guest Dr. Jose Luis Galache from the Minor Planet Center. The broadcast will begin Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. eastern time.

"Discovering Near Earth Asteroids has become an automatic process for the survey telescopes, but discovery is just the beginning—there is so much science to do after that! Amateur astronomers with access to pro-level telescopes under dark skies are in a great position to learn more about an asteroid than just where it's going,” Galache said in a statement.