Asteroid as large as 300 feet wide due to pass between Earth and the moon Saturday afternoon
A newly discovered asteroid more than 200 feet wide will zoom in between Earth and the moon Saturday afternoon in an occurrence NASA says happens only once a decade.
The asteroid, 2023 DZ2, was discovered in February by astronomers at the observatory of La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain, according to EarthSky. Since then, astronomers have continued to observe the asteroid to get a better idea of its size and orbit. NASA says the asteroid could be anywhere from 134 to 305 feet in diameter.
The asteroid is expected to pass the Earth at about 100,000 miles away – about half the distance to the Moon – at about 3:51 p.m. EDT, NASA said Saturday on Twitter.
Asteroid 2023 DZ2 will pass Earth more than 100,000 miles (161,000 km) away–about half the distance to the Moon–making its close approach at 3:51 p.m. EDT (12:51 p.m. PDT). Check out @NASA_Eyes on Asteroids at https://t.co/pOaKAAdsRK
— NASA (@NASA) March 25, 2023
Though the asteroid will safely pass by our planet, there is a slim chance we could have an impact in a few years. Here's what to know about the asteroid:
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How close will asteroid 2023 DZ2 be to Earth?
2023 DZ2 was expected to miss Earth by 108,758 miles, NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies had said. For reference, the moon is 238,855 miles from Earth.
The asteroid is moving at 17,403 mph.
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Astronomers to observe 2023 DZ2
NASA said 2023 DZ2 will provide a "unique opportunity for science," because an asteroid of its size has a close approach only about once a decade.
The agency said astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network will observe the approach to learn more about planetary defense, which NASA has practiced with its DART spacecraft.
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
2023 DZ2 could hit Earth in 2026
This won't be the only time 2023 DZ2 will have a close encounter with our planet. EarthSky said early data showed the asteroid has a 1-in-38-million chance to hit Earth on March 27, 2026.
NASA says an asteroid like 2023 DZ2, which is larger than 82 feet but smaller than 3,280 feet, would "likely cause local damage to the impact area."
Asteroids' close encounters with Earth
Asteroids are constantly approaching Earth, and some actually do hit our planet, although they typically turn into dazzling fireballs that don't harm anybody.
Earlier this month, NASA said it was beginning to monitor 2023 DW, an asteroid with a diameter of about 160 feet that has a "very small chance" of hitting our planet on Feb. 14, 2046. But it probably will miss Earth by more than 1.1 million miles.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Asteroid passing Earth and moon today: NASA tracking 2023 DZ2