Published : Friday, February 9, 2018 | 8:35 AM
A small asteroid is skimming by Earth today—and if astronomy is your thing, you can watch it happen live.
Asteroid 2018 CB is estimated to be between 50 to 130 feet (15 to 40 meters) feet in size and will fly by Earth at about 2:30 p.m. PST (5:30 p.m. EST).
“Although 2018 CB is quite small, it might well be larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, almost exactly five years ago, in 2013. Asteroids of this size do not often approach this close to our planet—maybe only once or twice a year,” said Paul Chodas, manager of the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, in a statement. JPL hosts the Center for NASA’s Near Earth Object Observations program.
The Chelyabinsk rock indirectly injured about 1,500 people. However, astronomer Gianluca Masi from the Virtual Telescope Project (VTP) provided by the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy said 2018 CB does not pose the same risk.
“Even in the case of 2018 CB, this is (far) enough for it to come and go away without problems,” Masi said. He added astronomers have improved their capabilities in finding these smaller asteroids, and this is why they’re having a higher frequency of observed “close encounters.”
On Tuesday, February 6, asteroid 2018 CC made its closest approach, at 114,000 miles (184,000 km), roughly the halfway point between Earth and the moon. It measures from 0.3 miles to 0.75 miles (0.5 to 1.2 km) across.
The CSS in Arizona discovered the two objects only on Sunday, February 4, JPL said.
Follow 2018 CB’s flyby today with a live stream through www.virtualtelescope.eu. VTP will capture video as the asteroid sails safely through the skies, starting at 12 p.m. PST.