Skyscraper-Size Asteroid DZ2 To Fly By Earth On Saturday 

23rd Mar 2023
Skyscraper-Size Asteroid DZ2 To Fly By Earth On Saturday 

NASA says that the newly discovered 64-metre diameter asteroid DZ2 will approach Earth as close as half the distance to the Moon. 

On 25th March, the asteroid DZ2 will safely fly by Earth at a distance of about 174,650 km, which is half that of the Moon. However, it will not impact the Earth yet will not be seen without special equipment, like telescopes. 

According to more than 140 observations, the DZ2 asteroid’s estimated size is 141 and 312 feet (43 and 95 meters) in diameter which made it the biggest asteroid to approach Earth so close in years. The DZ2 asteroid’s speed is about 28,008 km per hour relative to Earth, which is quite slow compared to most asteroids. According to scientists, even if DZ2 would impact Earth, it wouldn’t cause a cataclysmic event that still could be harmful to the targeted location.

asteroid 2023 DZ2 infographic
Source: ESA

Discovery of asteroid DZ2

The asteroid DZ2 was discovered on 27th February 2023, only a month ago, by astronomers at the observatory of La Palma, in the Canary Islands, Spain. The asteroid is classified as a near-Earth object of the Apollo group.

While observing and calculating its orbit, the chance of impact on Earth on 27th March 2026 was calculated as 1-in-430. But three days later, DZ2 was removed from NASA’s Sentry Risk Table, and it will safely fly by our planet next time on 3rd April 2026. 

How and when to observe DZ2 in the UK?

For those willing to observe the DZ2 asteroid, the best way to see it will be from the Northern Hemisphere on Friday night, 24th March 2023. The asteroid will be east of the constellations Orion, Canis Major and Canis Minor. 

To see the DZ2 asteroid in the night sky, you’ll need at least a 15cm telescope. It will appear as a slow-moving star. The best way not to miss it is to point the telescope at one of the known stars like Procyon, Sirius, Rigel, or Betelgeuse and just wait till you see DZ2 in motion. 

Anti-asteroid protection

In 2021 NASA launched the first-of-its-kind testing mission called DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) – a planetary defence method against near-Earth objects (NEOs). Its goal was to figure out how much a spacecraft’s impact could change an asteroid’s trajectory. On September 26, 2022, the DART spacecraft hit the targeted asteroid Dimorphos, a 260-foot-in-diameter minor-planet moon of the asteroid Didymos. 

The DART spacecraft successfully collided with Dimorphos and shortened its orbit by 32 minutes, which is 25 times more than expected.

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