A large asteroid will safely pass close to Earth on September 1

A three-mile-wide asteroid is going to fly past our planet on Friday

A three-mile-wide asteroid is going to fly past our planet on Friday

On the first of September an asteroid almost 3 miles wide will fly past Earth at a distance of 4.4 million miles.

The last time Florence flew so close to us was way back in 1890, and won't be so near again until 2500. Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., notes that while many other asteroids have passed much closer to our planet, this one-measuring 2.7 miles wide-is much larger.

NASA has been working on planetary defense for some time - its Near-Earth Object Observations Program already works with astronomers and scientists around the world to look for asteroids that could harm Earth.

Asteroid Florence is quite big as far as asteroids go: at 2.7 miles across, it's the biggest to pass earth since NASA started keeping records, according to the space agency.

It's relatively close proximity to Earth is exciting for scientists, giving them an opportunity to study it up close. Also, the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will conduct radar imaging.

Florence will remain at magnitude 10 through September 5, so the magazine estimates even with a semi-bright Moon, skywatchers with a telescope of a modest size such as four inches should have no problem spotting it, while in some cases you will be able to catch sight of it using binoculars.

The asteroid, named "Florence" in honor of Florence Nightengale, will pass by close enough to be viewed in most amateur telescopes.

Florence was discovered by American astronomer Schelte "Bobby" Bus at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia in March 1981.

Florence will reach peak brightness on Thursday and Friday when it will be visible from North America at about 60 degrees above the southern horizon, Universe Today estimates.

Sky & Telescope magazine has created charts to help those interested track the asteroid's path in the sky, CNET reported.

The magazine also notes that Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT is another flawless time to view the enormous asteroid.

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