A sizeable asteroid is due for a close visit in just a few hours and you can watch it live as it safely skims past our planet, reports CNET.
Estimated to be the size of a 17-floor office building, the space rock will be making a very close — and completely unthreatening — approach this afternoon, creeping in between Earth and the moon.
According to EarthSky, the asteroid was first spotted at the beginning of the week. Detected on September 3 by the ATLAS survey at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii, its impending visit was announced by the Minor Planet Center on the next day.
Dubbed 2018 RC, the near-Earth asteroid is thought to be up to 233 feet (71 meters) wide — or about “the same height as the 17-story Kajima Building (also known as the California Bank and Trust Building) in Los Angeles,” notes CNET.
That’s also the same as the wingspan of a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, points out Astronomy Now, stating that asteroid 2018 RC will be coming in at about half the distance between us and the moon.
The space rock is expected to pop by at 6 p.m. ET and will be passing just 136,702 miles (220,000 kilometers) from the surface of our planet — at exactly 0.58 lunar distance (LD).
When asteroid 2018 RC swings by later today, the space rock will be close enough and bright enough to be seen through a telescope.
“Just before its flyby, it will be visible with small (10-cm large or larger) telescopes, as a 12th magnitude dot of light,” states EarthSky.
Those without an adequate telescope or who are met with cloudy skies can watch the asteroid zoom by from the comfort of their home, as the event will be livestreamed on the Virtual Telescope Project 2.0 website starting with 6 p.m. ET.
Although this won’t be the closest asteroid encounter we’ve had this year, it will be a spectacle to watch nonetheless. This is because the space rock is one of the largest to come within one lunar distance in 2018.
As the Inquisitr recently reported, our closest rendezvous with an asteroid in 2018 occurred on August 10, when the 49-foot (15-meter) asteroid 2018 PD20 came shooting past our planet at a distance of 20,636 miles (33,210 kilometers), or 0.09 LD.
Since the beginning of March, seven other asteroids whizzed by within a lunar distance — some even smaller in diameter, others a lot larger. You can read up about these past close encounters in this Inquisitr article.