An asteroid will pass between Earth and the Moon, but it is harmless

A new asteroid will pass near Earth on March 25, 2023. But, if the distance is small on the scale of the Universe, it is not a threat.

When an asteroid approaches our planet, the reactions are often maddening, sometimes even apocalyptic. It must be said that there is no shortage of multiple alarmist articles and that it is difficult for the reader to remain calm and not to cry danger. A finding that is still verified with the asteroid 2023 DZ2.

Discovered in February 2023 by astronomers at the La Palma Observatory in the Canary Islands, this asteroid should pass very close to Earth, at a distance equivalent to half that between our planet and the Moon, i.e. 192,200 km approximately.

Amateur astronomers will also be able to see it furtively as it passes, on March 25, 2023 around 8:51 p.m. According to Earthsky, it is at this precise moment that it should be closest to Earth.

Asteroid 2023 DZ2 captured in image at Abbey Ridge Observatory, Canada // Source: Filipp Romanov

The asteroid, whose size is estimated between 43 and 95 meters, belongs to the family of Apollo, asteroids which have the common point of having an orbit larger than that of the Earth. The Apollos also have the reputation of crossing our planet, which can sometimes be worrying.

No danger for the Earth

But, like most asteroids, 2023 DZ2 won’t be dangerous. If it was considered that this asteroid could represent a very slight risk of collision with the Earth (2023 DZ2 has a chance in 430 of hitting our planet), this is no longer the case since March 20, 2023.

NASA has removed the asteroid from its Sentry monitoring tool, which tracks asteroids that may be threats. On the contrary, the space agency believes on Twitter that 2023 DZ2 represents a “ unique opportunity for science » and for the study of an asteroid of this size, which we only see « once a decade “. The passage of 2023 DZ2 also allows NASA to prepare the planetary defense of the future, which could be used if a more threatening asteroid were to appear one day.

This is where the asteroid will be // Source: USA Today
Here is the position of 2023 DZ2. // Source: USA Today

If scientists will carefully follow the trajectory of this asteroid, amateurs will also be able to follow it. 2023 DZ2 should be close enough to Earth to be observed, on the sole condition of using telescopes of at least 15 cm in diameter.

Its speed of more than 28,000 km/h should not be a brake either. Because of its relatively short distance, 2023 DZ2 will look more like a slow star in a telescope, according to Earthsky. With a little luck, it will even be possible to detect its movement in real time.

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