Big Boy Asteroid 2000 EM26 Flies By Earth Tonight – Watch It Live

Live feed for the tonight’s close approach of asteroid 2000 EM26

Sometimes I wonder how certain asteroids get picked for notoriety on the news while others don’t. Tonight, 2000 EM26 is in the spotlight. This near-Earth asteroid speeds by Earth at a distance 8.8 times that of the moon or about 2.1 million miles. Don’t get me wrong – that’s pretty close, and EM26 isn’t a particularly small rock. Based on its brightness curve, it’s estimated at 640 feet (195-meters) across.

Time exposure photo of the asteroid 2006 DP14 on Feb. 11, 2014. On Feb. 10 it passed just 1.5 million miles from Earth. Credit: Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes and Martino Nicolini

But a week ago on Feb. 10, the larger asteroid 2006 DP14 (2,395 feet / 730 m) made an even closer shave at 6.2 lunar distances. 2014 BR57 will pass closer yet at 4.4 times the moon’s distance on Thursday. I suspect the attention 2000 EM26 is getting is related to the Russian fireball, a near-Earth asteroid whose last orbit ended in earthly annihilation just one year ago.

Alright, alright, I’ll just quiet down and enjoy the show.

Show? Yes indeed. The wonderful, public-minded SLOOH – a fellowship of citizen astronomers who share the sky through free, live, public celestial events – will broadcast live views of 2000 EM26 as it tracks across the stars of the constellation Bootes starting this evening at 8 p.m. CST (9 p.m. EST, 2 a.m. Greenwich Time).

The orbit of 2000 EM26 – shown in blue – a near-Earth, potentially hazardous asteroid discovered on March 5, 2000. Credit: JPL/NASA

While the asteroid will appear perfectly star-like (it’s too small to show a shape), it will be cool to watch it crawl across the sky. Drawn by the power of the sun’s gravity, the same force that keeps Earth happily in orbit, the asteroid will travel to the northwest during the night, passing closest to our planet around 6 p.m. CST.

The live image stream will be accompanied by discussions led by Slooh host and astronomer Bob Berman with special guests including experts and eyewitnesses from Russia, who experienced a real asteroid impact on Feb. 15 a year ago, when the fireball rained down black stones over Chelyabinsk.

Sounds like a great time and a chance to refresh your knowledge of the largest witnessed meteorite fall in most of our lifetimes while simultaneously watching a potentially hazardous asteroid glide a safe distance from Earth.

You can really have it all in today’s world of astronomy.

10 Responses

  1. trey

    I love science to the point that it will not hurt nobody …but space is a dark but scary place nobody noes…. how it became or how it will become…

  2. jim swarens

    divide screen 3rds side to side, at the 1 3rd on the left side top quarter of screen… moving down to the right you can see movement as the pics change

  3. allison

    What magnitude will 2000EM26 achieve at its brightest (not that I can see it, since it’s raining at my location)?

    1. astrobob

      Very faint. Max. mag. will occur tomorrow night at around 15.4. You’ll need an excellent chart and a 16-inch telescope to see it.

  4. Kevin Heider

    Bob, I completely agree with your comment, “Sometimes I wonder how certain asteroids get picked for notoriety on the news while others don’t.” I also agree the anniversary of the Chelyabinsk meteor has a lot do with with 2000 EM26 being picked. 2000 EM26 did not have a well determined orbit and could have passed as far as 0.13 AU (19,000,000 km; 12,000,000 mi) from Earth.

    1. astrobob

      That’s why I chose to write about it – the Chelaybinsk connection – since there are at least asteroids that size that come that close practically every month of the year.

  5. Giorgio Rizzarelli

    Ironical. I just read in your Universe Today article that the asteroid didn’t appear in the live. Yes possibly orbit prediction was wrong. But I think it was a protest by the union of near-Earth asteroids against human mediatic overestimates.

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