Friday, August 25, 2017


Article Written By: Teresa Marotta


Asteroid Florence

Asteroid Florence, that was discovered by Schelte ‘Bobby’ Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in March 1981, is set to fly safely past Earth on September 1st. Data taken by NASA’s NEOWISE space probe and the Spitzer Space Telescope have measured the asteroid to be about 2.7 miles (4.4 km) in size. The asteroid is expected to travel past Earth on September 1 and its closest approach will be about 4.4 million miles (7.0 million kilometers). This will be the closest encounter of this asteroid since 1890 and the closest it will be until after 2500.

Florence will brighten to 9th magnitude in late August and early September. It will be visible in small telescopes for multiple nights while it moves through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius and Delphinus.

“While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller,” said Dr. Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). “Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began.”

As a result of its proximity, this encounter will provide the chance for astronomers to study Florence up close. The resulting radar images that will be taken at NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and at NSF’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will show the real size of the asteroid and could potentially show surface details as small as about 30 feet (10 m).

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