A large asteroid, estimated to be nearly one hundred meters in width will come exceptionally close to Earth on March 25, 2023.
Apollo Asteroid Discovered in February, Expected to Make a Close Approach on March 25, 2023
The 95-meter-diameter asteroid, 2023 DZ2, will make an exceptionally close approach to Earth on Saturday, March 25, 2023, coming within just 173,000 kilometers of our planet. NASA has dubbed such an event as a “once in a decade” occurrence. The space rock was discovered by scientists at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands earlier this year.
Discovery and Orbit of 2023 DZ2
The asteroid was first detected on February 27, 2023, by researchers using the Isaac Newton Telescope. At the time of discovery, 2023 DZ2 was 16 million kilometers away from Earth, with an estimated orbit of 3.16 years around the Sun. However, its close encounter with Earth this weekend and subsequent exposure to our planet’s gravity will reduce its orbital period to approximately 3.01 years.
Future Impact Risk Diminishedv
A newly discovered #asteroid named 2023 DZ2 will safely pass by Earth on Saturday at 100K+ miles away. 🌎
While close approaches are a regular occurrence, one by an asteroid of this size (140-310 ft) happens only about once per decade, providing a unique opportunity for science.
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) March 21, 2023
Astronomers predict that the change in 2023 DZ2’s orbit will effectively eliminate the possibility of a future impact with Earth, which had been initially calculated as a one-in-430 chance for March 27, 2026. The asteroid is classified as an Apollo asteroid, meaning it crosses Earth’s orbit in a similar manner to the asteroid Apollo, discovered in 1862. Most nearby asteroids, including 2023 DZ2, are believed to originate from the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.
Close Encounter Details and Viewing Tips
2023 DZ2 will pass within 0.5 lunar distances (half the distance between Earth and the Moon) from Earth’s surface, traveling at a speed of 28,000 km. To catch a glimpse of the asteroid, sky enthusiasts can point their telescopes at a known star in the asteroid’s path and wait for the space rock to move into view slowly. Many small telescopes now include computerized “Go-To” controls, allowing the user to point the instrument at a reference star (such as HIP 44604 or HIP 44838) to observe the passing object.
Goldstone Antenna to Capture Radar Images
Astronomers at the Goldstone Antenna in California plan to obtain radar images of 2023 DZ2 between March 23 and 26. The asteroid’s closest approach to Earth is expected to occur at approximately 19:51 UTC (3:51 p.m. EDT) on March 25. Observers in Southeast Asia will have the best view, with an apparent magnitude of 9.902. In other locations, the asteroid will appear fainter but will still be visible from the western Northern Hemisphere on Friday night around 19:52 GMT (15:52 EDT).
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