200-foot asteroid 2023 DZ2 to pass near the Moon

asteroid 2023 DZD 2 It will safely pass Earth about half the distance between Earth and the Moon. Image via NASA.

Another newly discovered space rock will pass safely past Earth, this one on March 25, 2023. It will sweep about half the distance between Earth and the Moon. Astronomers at the La Palma Observatory, in the Canary Islands, Spain, discovered the asteroid in late February 2023. Amateur astronomers may get a glimpse of the asteroid as it passes by quickly. See the graphs at the bottom of this post.

Closest approach to Earth is believed to occur around 19:52 UTC (3:52 p.m. EDT) on March 25. But the exact time and other details may be updated as more notes emerge.

The asteroid has been named 2023 DZD 2. It is part of Apollo family from asteroids. Current estimates put the 2023 DZ2 in size around 210 feet (64 meters) in diameter.

As of March 20, 2023, there have been 122 observations of the asteroid’s new orbit over a period of 63.8 days. The new observations will better define the space rock’s orbit and allow scientists to get a more accurate estimate of its size, which could be between 144 and 325 feet (44 and 99 meters) in diameter.

For comparison, the asteroid that passed over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013 was a space rock about 65 feet (20 meters) in diameter. Watch a video of size comparisons in asteroids here.

2023 DZ2 is classified as a NEO (Near Earth Object). It orbits the sun every 3.17 years.

Low risk of impact in 2026

As with many of the newly discovered asteroids – whose orbits are not fully known – they are preliminary. analysis The track of the space rock indicates a very small chance of 1 in 430 that the asteroid will hit Earth on March 27, 2026.

But – with more observations – astronomers will probably rule out even these small risks.

visible in small telescopes

Asteroid 2023 DZ2 will pass within 0.5 moons (half the distance between Earth and the Moon) from Earth’s surface. The relative proximity will enable observers to view the space rock with telescopes six inches (15 cm) in diameter and larger.

The space rock is traveling at 17.426 mph (28.044 km/h), or 7.79 km/s, relative to Earth. While it seems like a huge speed for what we know on Earth, it is a relatively slow asteroid unlike other space rocks that astronomers study.

Since the asteroid will pass half the distance between Earth and the Moon, the small distance will cause it to appear as a “slow-moving star” in the field of a small telescope. And you may even be able to detect its movement in real time!

One of the best techniques sky enthusiasts use to catch an asteroid is to point the telescope at a known star in the asteroid’s path. Then just wait for the slowly moving space rock to appear. Fortunately, many small telescopes now include a computerized Go-To manual control. Thus, you can point the instrument at a reference star to get a glimpse of the passing object.

When is the best time to see asteroid 2023 DZ2?

We found the best time to see asteroid 2023 DZ2 from the Northern Hemisphere early on Friday night, March 24, 2023. Good luck, and clear skies to you!

Star chart showing bright winter stars and red hash marks for asteroid site 2023 DZ2.
Here’s a wide view of the sky on Friday, March 24, 2023. From a location in the Northern Hemisphere, look above southeast horizon. For all of us around the world, the asteroid will be east of the constellations Orion, Canis Major, and Canis Minor. Visit Stellarium online To get an accurate view of these constellations on March 24th from your location on Earth. Illustration via Eddie Irizari / Stellarium.
Closer look. Observers using a computerized telescope or Go-To telescope can point their instrument at one of these reference stars around 1:35 UTC March 25 (8:35 p.m. CST March 24) to try and spot asteroid 2023 DZ2. The asteroid should appear as a “slow-moving star” passing in front of the fixed stars in the sky. Illustration via Eddie Irizarry/Stellarium.
At about 2:20 UTC March 25 (9:20 p.m. CST on March 24), asteroid 2023 DZ2 should pass near the star HIP 44831 as seen from our vantage point. Illustration via Eddie Irizarry/Stellarium.
Star outline with one star and asteroid red hash marks.
On the night of March 24, 2023, you may be able to see the movement of space rocks in real time through a telescope. At about 11 p.m. CST (4 UTC March 25) on that date, asteroid 2023 DZ2 will pass near reference star HIP 45578. Illustration via Eddie Irizarry / Stellarium.

Bottom line: Newly discovered asteroid 2023 DZ2 will safely pass Earth less than half the Moon’s distance on March 25, 2023. People with telescopes should be able to spot the visitor.

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