This weekend a nearly mile-wide asteroid with its own moon will make a safe flyby past Earth.
The asteroid and companion moon, known as 1999 KW4, which was first discovered on May 20, 1999, will whiz by us. The nearest point of approach will occur at 7:05 ET Saturday at a distance of 3 million miles, moving at a speed of approximately 500,000 mph.
KW4 poses no threat to Earth, but will provide scientists with a golden opportunity to study the binary asteroid during an unusually close pass. Much study has been devoted to the threat of an asteroid collision and how to improve the nation’s defenses in such a possible event.
You will not be able to catch KW4 without the aid of a telescope, which was first spotted from the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) site in New Mexico 20 years ago.
Asteroids are numerous in our solar system, mainly circulating in a belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
The small, rocky bodies orbit the sun like planets, comprising fragments leftover from the beginning of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago during the collapse of a massive cloud of gas and dust.