There have been several instances where an asteroid has skimmed past Earth. After it was recently reported that our planet will be hit by an asteroid so big that it will wipe out most forms of life, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has now reported that a massive asteroid will have a near-Earth encounter on May 15.
Asteroid 2010 WC9 is going to brush past Earth, roughly 126,000 miles away (0.53 lunar-distances), making it one of the closest approaches ever observed for an asteroid of this size. According to a report by EarthSky, the asteroid's diameter ranges from 197 to 427 feet, moving at a speed of more than 28,000 miles per hour. To put that in perspective, look at it as the Statue of Liberty slinging past Earth's surface hundreds and thousands of miles away.
The 2010 WC9 asteroid will be at the closest distance to Earth at around 6.05 p.m. EST (3:05 pm Pacific time), which would make it possible to witness it using a small telescope. This is going to be the closest encounter with the asteroid in the last 300 years.
The asteroid of 18 magnitudes is fainting and currently at +15 mag. Experts suggest it might get as bright as +11 mag when it closely passes from the Earth.
'Lost' and found
The asteroid 2010 WC9 was temporarily lost after it was spotted by the Catalina Sky Survey (CSS), a space project backed by NASA's Near Earth Object Observation Program (NEOO), in November 2010. But it was not imaged again until May 8th, 2018, when it was temporarily called ZJ99C60, and then again on May 10 when experts were able to identify it as 2010 WC9.
"Once enough data had been collected by us, and other observatories, it soon became apparent that it wasn't a new asteroid. We had helped to recover an asteroid that was lost eight years ago," astronomer Guy Wells, of the Northolt Branch Observatories in London, told Newsweek.
How to watch the asteroid skim past Earth?
It may be a long shot to endlessly aim at the sky, trying to locate the passing asteroid. But if you choose to leave this job to the experts, you can watch the live stream by Northolt Branch Observatories from about 7 pm ET.
NBO will try to stream the event on its Facebook feed, provided the weather is favoring.
"Astronomy is an outdoor sport. Fingers crossed that the weather improves! If it doesn't improve then we will make a post with old images, and provide alternatives where you might see live views of 2010 WC9 at later times," NBO post read.