A newly discovered asteroid more than 200 feet wide will zoom in between Earth and the moon Saturday in an occurrence NASA says happens only once a decade.
The asteroid, 2023 DZ2, was discovered in February by astronomers at the observatory of La Palma in the Canary Islands, Spain, according to EarthSky. Since then, astronomers have continued to observe the asteroid to get a better idea of its size and orbit. NASA says the asteroid could be anywhere from 134 to 305 feet in diameter.
Though the asteroid will safely pass by our planet, there is a slim chance we could have an impact in a few years. Here’s what to know about the asteroid:
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How close will asteroid 2023 DZ2 be to Earth?
2023 DZ2 will miss Earth by 108,758 miles, according to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies. For reference, the moon is 238,855 miles from Earth.
The asteroid is moving at 17,403 mph.
When will asteroid 2023 DZ2 fly past Earth?
The asteroid will have its closest approach on Saturday at 3:51 p.m. EDT.
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Astronomers to observe 2023 DZ2
NASA said 2023 DZ2 will provide a “unique opportunity for science,” because an asteroid of its size has a close approach only about once a decade.
The agency said astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network will observe the approach to learn more about planetary defense, which NASA has practiced with its DART spacecraft.
2023 DZ2 could hit Earth in 2026
This won’t be the only time 2023 DZ2 will have a close encounter with our planet. EarthSky said early data showed the asteroid has a 1-in-38-million chance to hit Earth on March 27, 2026.
NASA says an asteroid like 2023 DZ2, which is larger than 82 feet but smaller than 3,280 feet, would “likely cause local damage to the impact area.”
Asteroids’ close encounters with Earth
Asteroids are constantly approaching Earth, and some actually do hit our planet, although they typically turn into dazzling fireballs that don’t harm anybody.
Earlier this month, NASA said it was beginning to monitor 2023 DW, an asteroid with a diameter of about 160 feet that has a “very small chance” of hitting our planet on Feb. 14, 2046. But it probably will miss Earth by more than 1.1 million miles.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.