A 3 mile-wide asteroid will drift past Earth more than 18 moon-lengths away, making it the largest to do so since researchers began tracking such close encounters.
SPACE (Next) – A 3 mile-wide asteroid will drift past Earth more than 18 moon-lengths away, making it the largest to do so since researchers began tracking such close encounters.
According to NASA, Asteroid Florence, named after the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, is believed to be at least 2.7 miles in diameter. It was first spotted in March of 1981 from the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Hurtling through space 4.4 million miles away, more than 18 Earth-moon distances, Florence is the largest asteroid to pass this close since the first near-Earth asteroid was detected over a century ago. The last time this particular asteroid was this close was back in 1890, and following September 1, it will not fly this near again until after the year 2500.
As it glides by, Florence will move through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius and Delphinus, visible even by small telescopes. Florence’s trip past the Earth offers scientists a chance to study it up close, with aims of capturing high-resolution images revealing surface features as small as about 10 meters, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).