Lost asteroid returns to Earth

'Lost' asteroid to pass closely May 15

'Lost' asteroid to pass closely May 15

Get your telescopes ready, people: asteroid 2010 WC9 will be flying by Earth at the terrifying speed of 28,655 miles per hour this Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. EDT. After several years of observation, the rock's orbit was mapped out, Space.com reported. Asteroid 2010 WC9 is not among the potentially hazardous asteroids marked by NASA. However, the asteroid has now paid a visit after eight long years on 8 May this year and its activity had initially made the researchers suspicious.

The asteroid was found again just last week. Although there is no risk of the rocky passerby colliding with either the Earth or the Moon, according to EarthSky, this is one of the closest approaches ever observed for an asteroid of this size.

At its closest, the asteroid will come close to Earth within 0.53 lunar distances - around 203,000km.

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Asteroid 2010 WC9 is an Apollo type space rock.

Though it won't be visible to the naked eye during the flyby, astronomers predict small telescopes might give a faint view of the space rock if pointed in the direction at the right time. As per the expert, this asteroid dubbed 2010 WC9 would tend to brush against our planet this week, most probably on Tuesday. The Arizona Catalina sky survey was first discovered on November 30, 2010, and astronomers watched until December 10, when it became too weak.

The asteroid 2010 WC9, affectionately known as "the lost asteroid", at 200 to 400 feet wide, is close in size to a city block wide. However, astronomers are unable to collect enough data to determine the orbit of the asteroid 2010 WC9 and was lost for seven years. The asteroid will be moving quite rapidly (30 arcseconds per minute). But astronomy enthusiasts lacking telescopes will still be able to see it; Northholt Branch Observatories in London will be livestreaming the event on Facebook. "Our display will update every five seconds", Guy Wells, the founding member of the observatory, told EarthSky.

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