Newly-discovered asteroid 2012 LZ1 is flying past the Earth-Moon system today. At closest approach on June 14th (23:10 UT), this 300 - 700 meter-wide space rock will be 14 lunar distances (5 310 835.2 km, 3.3 million miles) away. A team of astronomers led by Ernesto Guido photographed the incoming asteroid on June 13th: images.
While there's no danger of an impact on this pass, the huge space rock may come close enough to be caught on camera. The online skywatching service Slooh will train a telescope on the Canary Islands on 2012 LZ1 and stream the footage live, beginning at 8:00 p.m. EDT Thursday (00:00 UTC Friday).
You can watch the asteroid flyby on Slooh's website: http://events.slooh.com.
2012 LZ1 just popped onto astronomers' radar this week. It was discovered on the night of June 10-11 by Rob McNaught and his colleagues, who were peering through the Uppsala Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.
Researchers estimate that the space rock is between 1,000 and 2,300 feet wide (300-700 m). On Thursday evening, it will come within about 3.35 million miles (5.4 million kilometers) of our planet, or roughly 14 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
Because of its size and proximity to Earth, 2012 LZ1 qualifies as a potentially hazardous asteroid. Near-Earth asteroids generally have to be at least 500 feet (150 m) wide and come within 4.65 million miles (7.5 million km) of our planet to be classified as potentially hazardous.
2012 LZ1 is roughly the same size as asteroid 2005 YU55, which made a much-anticipated flyby of Earth last November. But 2005 YU55 gave our planet a much closer shave, coming within 202,000 miles (325,000 km) of us on the evening of Nov. 8. A space rock as big as 2005 YU55 hadn't come so close to Earth since 1976, researchers said.
Sources: space.com, events.slooh.com, remanzacco.blogspot.it
SLOOH time-lapse video produced by Slooh's Canary Islands observatory on June 13th in preparation for their live event:
Featured image: http://remanzacco.blogspot.it