'Lost and found' asteroid returns to buzz past Earth Tuesday

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Although 2010 WC9 is hurtling towards us at an incredible speed of 28,655 miles per hour (46,116 km/h), it's unlikely that the asteroid will change its trajectory. It was discovered by astronomers in 2010 who were a part of the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey. An Apollo-type asteroid, 2010 WC9 orbits the Sun once every 409 days, ranging from a perihelion of 0.78 astronomical units (AU) outside the orbit of Venus out to 1.38 AU, just inside the orbit of Mars.

Asteroid "2010 WC9" will zoom past the planet closer than the distance of the moon at 6:05 p.m. local time on Tuesday, according to the website Earth Sky.

There have been several instances where an asteroid has skimmed past Earth. The Chelyabinsk meteor was 20 meters large (before entering the earth's atmosphere).

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The webcast will feature live views of 2010 WC9 captured by four different telescopes at Slooh's observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands, Slooh representatives said. The diameter of the asteroid is estimated at 60-130 meters. After a few weeks, the scientists lost track of the asteroid. While rocky asteroids tend to explode in the atmosphere, such as the asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk, if one the size of 2010 WC9 made of iron were to hit the planet, it would leave a crater the size of Meteor Crater west of Winslow, Arizona. Inning accordance with the Jet Propulsion Lab of NASA, the flyby of 2010 WC9 will certainly be the closest of a planet its dimension in virtually 300 years. The football field-sized asteroid is dubbed 2010 WC9.

2010 WC9 was discovered in November 2010 and observed through December of that year. Orbit calculations show that the May 15 pass is Earth's closest encounter for an asteroid this size in nearly 300 years. Despite its big size it will not be visible to the naked eye but watching it from a telescope could help for some people. The asteroid will move pretty fast (30 seconds of arc per minute).

Guy Wells at Northolt Branch Observatories, said: "We are planning to broadcast this asteroid live to our Facebook page on the night of May 14, likely around midnight, if the weather forecast remains positive".

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