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Asteroid Florence flies by Earth

02 Septembre 2017

The asteroid, which can be seen using a small telescope, will appear as bright as a 9th-magnitude star because its large surface means that it reflects nearly twice as much light from the sun as the moon, according to Sky & Telescope.

The asteroid will be passing by 18 times the distance between Earth and Moon, which is around 7.08 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).

"They were estimated to be smaller", said Paul Chodas, Manager of NASA's Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Florence's trip near Earth, its closest since 1890, provided scientists with a unique opportunity to study the ancient asteroid.

However, having 30 meters of diameter, the celestial body is considerably smaller than Florence. Florence is expected to be an excellent target for ground-based radar observations, according to NASA.

Lucky for Earthlings, the trajectory of Florence will not cross the path of Earth, because if it were to hit - it would be life ending.

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NASA has been using radar imaging to observe already hundreds of asteroids.

Asteroid Florence was discovered in March 1981 by American astronomer Schelte J "Bobby" Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia. It won't come this close again until after 2500, NASA said.

Though NASA did not live-stream the event, the space agency has several of its telescopes pointed at the asteroid. It was named in honor of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of modern nursing.

Asteroid Florence (AF) will pass at 4,390,892 miles on Friday and will be the closest a Near Earth Object (NEO).

Asteroid Florence flies by Earth