Asteroid flying by Earth this weekend, watch it online

Another asteroid is heading our way, a fairly sizable one by all accounts, though you’ll be pleased to know there’s no chance of it actually crashing into our planet. Thanks to the Slooh Space Camera website, however, you’ll have an opportunity to watch this dramatic event this Sunday (July 22).

Named AM31, the rock was first spotted 10 years ago and has been carefully tracked since then.

Astronomers have estimated the asteroid to be 620 meters to 1.4 km (0.4 to 0.8 miles) wide – about the size of a city block, says Universe Today.

With the flying rock hurtling past at a distance of some 5.2 million kilometers (3.2 million miles) – 14 times further than the distance between Earth and the moon – we can rest assured that our usual Sunday routine will pass happily by without any major interruptions from outer space.

It is, however, coming close enough to be classified as an NEO (near-Earth object).

The Slooh Space Camera website is presenting two live-streams, one at 4.30pm PT on Sunday, tracking AM31 from the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, and later at 8pm PT, watching from the Prescott Observatory in Arizona.

The streams will be accompanied by real-time analysis from Slooh’s Patrick Paolucci and Astronomy magazine’s Bob Berman.

“The entire astronomical community has reversed its thinking about [near-Earth objects] over the past few decades,” Berman told Universe Today. “Instead of living on an ‘island Earth’ with little or no connection with other celestial objects, we now feel that collisions with comets or asteroids change the evolution of our biosphere, and maybe even seeded our world with the amino acids that started life long ago. In other words, these are important entities.”

“Not to mention, there’s always that exciting little hint of danger,” Berman added.

[Image: sdecoret / Shutterstock]

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