If stargazing is a hobby of yours, then we have some pretty exciting news: an asteroid the size of the Statue of Liberty is set to safely zoom past Earth on Tuesday, May 15. Luckily, skywatchers will be able to spot the space rock (scientifically referred to as 2010 WC9) from home, no telescope required.
Weather permitting, astronomy lovers can catch a glimpse of the asteroid online via a live Facebook feed from Northolt Branch Observatories in London, England, at 22:05 UTC (6:05 pm EDT; translate to your time).
"The broadcast will be less than 25 minutes in duration, as the asteroid will cross our field of view within that period of time," Northolt Branch Observatories astronomer Guy Wells wrote in an email to EarthSky on Friday. "Our display will update every five seconds. We are, of course, collecting astrometric data while this is happening, but the motion of the asteroid will be apparent every five seconds!"
Astronomers first discovered the asteroid on November 30, 2010, in The Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. By December, the asteroid became too faint to see, which is why astronomers dubbed it the "lost" asteroid. It wasn't until May 9, 2018, (a whopping eight years later!) that the asteroid was spotted once again.
"There are many close approaches from asteroids, [but] most are very small," Wells told Newsweek. "Only very few objects of that size have ever been seen coming closer than the moon."
The asteroid is said to come within 126,419 miles of Earth, which is the closest a space rock has come to our planet in nearly 300 years. Even so, astronomers ensure that it's passing at a safe distance.