Asteroid Believed To Be Moon Fragment Might Make Close Encounter With Earth This Weekend

A newly discovered asteroid is expected to make a close approach to our planet as it flies by Earth on Sunday morning, according to a new report from EarthSky.

Citing findings from U.K.-based astronomer Daniel Bamberger of Northolt Branch Observatories in London, EarthSky wrote that the asteroid, which was given the name 2018 WV1, is expected to make its closest approach to Earth at 3:11 a.m. UTC on Sunday, or 10:11 p.m. ET on Saturday night. As the object is expected to be within 0.09 lunar distances, or 20,450 miles away from Earth, 2018 WV1 will be the third-closest asteroid to fly by our planet this year. The asteroid is estimated to be about 8.2 and 18.3 feet in diameter, as further noted by Bamberger.

“2018 WV1 was found on November 29 at the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, USA,” read a statement from Bamberger.

“It will make a close encounter on Sunday morning, coming within 27,000 km (16,800 mi) from the Earth’s surface – closer than the geostationary satellites.”

According to Bamberger, 2018 WV1 stood out as an “interesting” asteroid for reasons other than its expected proximity to Earth this weekend. He noted that the space rock has a “very low” velocity relative to our planet, which could make it an example of a lunar fragment that was launched into space as a result of a long-ago asteroid strike on the moon.

Bamberger’s statement also pointed out how it was originally estimated 2018 WV1 had a 2 percent chance of hitting Earth in early December. While this slight probability was ultimately ruled out, the astronomer added that the object is too small to pose a serious threat if it does make an impact.

The recent report on 2018 WV1 comes less than a week after news of a much larger asteroid called 2018 LF16 caused quite a stir due to its enormous size and claims that it could possibly hit Earth as soon as August 2023. However, the Inquisitr reported that the 700-foot space rock only has a one in 30 million chance of slamming into our planet if it ventures too close. This makes it very unlikely that the object would hit Earth, despite how NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) listed dozens of possible impact dates between now and 2117.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the Express published Saturday morning warned of another near-Earth asteroid called 2018 WN, which, at the time of publication, was predicted to make its closest approach to Earth at 11:49 a.m. GMT, or 6:49 a.m. ET on Saturday. While the U.K. news outlet, which cited data from the JPL, noted that 2018 WN has an estimated diameter of 40 to 91 feet, it was also stated that the object is “not on a trajectory to slam into our world,” despite its “destructive potential” in the event of an impact.