Asteroid nearly three miles wide is going to pass by Earth today 4 years ago

Asteroid nearly three miles wide is going to pass by Earth today

Don’t worry, we’re all going to be just fine.

An asteroid measuring approximately 2.7 miles in size will pass safely by Earth today, Friday, September 1, according to NASA.

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Named Florence, the asteroid is the largest asteroid to pass by Earth since a NASA programme to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began, but it will be so far away that we’ve no need to worry about it.

How far away? Just the 4.4 million miles (18 Earth to Moon distances), although that’s close enough for scientists to study it up close and it is expected to be an excellent target for ground-based radar observations.

Pic via NASA/JPL-Caltech

"While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller," said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a NASA statement.

"Florence is the largest asteroid to pass by our planet this close since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth asteroids began," Chodas added.

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Asteroid Florence was discovered by an astronomer named Schelte "Bobby" Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia in March 1981 and is named in honour of Florence Nightingale.

Friday’s encounter with Earth will be the closest by Florence since 1890 and the closest it will ever be until after 2500.

NASA says that Florence will brighten to ninth magnitude in late August and early September, when it will be visible in small telescopes for several nights as it moves through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius and Delphinus.

If you're a keen astronomer you might want to keep an eye on the skies, but there's no need to be heading to any underground shelter just yet.