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.
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).
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.