If aren’t doing anything this weekend and possess a really powerful telescope or a computer, you can watch two asteroids pass by Earth. One of them is thought to be the size of a city block. That larger asteroid, known as 2013 ET will pass us by on March 9 at around 3:15 p.m. EST.
Asteroid 2013 ET was discovered on March 3 by the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona. It is 210 feet by 460 feet, about as wide as a football field. Don’t worry too much though; the asteroid will still be about 604,500 miles away from the Earth when it passes. The second asteroid, 2013 EC 20, flew by Moscow at around 5:57 a.m. on Saturday. That asteroid was significantly smaller than 2013 ET.
Just a few days ago, on March 4, asteroid 2013 EC flew by Earth at a distance of 246,000 miles away.
Last month a meteor exploded over Russia that resulted in 1500 injuries in the city of Chelyabinsk. Hours after that, a meteor named 2012 DA14 made a historically close flyby near Earth. Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program at the JPL called these two events incredible coincidences.
Astronomer Bob Berman says the recent flurry of asteroid events calls for better monitoring of asteroids crossing into our orbit.
Does this mean we are headed for a certain run in with an asteroid? No. What it actually means is something very encouraging. Over the years, our ability to detect asteroids earlier has improved significantly. We aren’t actually witnessing more asteroid events, we are just getting better at finding them before they happen.
On March 13, the comet known as Pan-STARRS will appear in the Northern Hemisphere. You will be able to view the comet with just a pair of binoculars.
You can watch asteroid 2013 ET pass by Earth here.