It's both extremely cool and slightly alarming that an asteroid will be passing us by tonight, close enough that astronomers think they can get a good look. Fortunately for us space freaks, they're planning on capturing it live via telescope and it will be webscast live tonight at 5 P.M. via the Slooh Space Camera Website.
The near-Earth asteroid 2012 LZ1 is about 1,650 feet wide (think about five football fields) and will be coming within 3.35 million miles of Earth tonight. Fortunately that means we are safe from Armageddon this time.
The Slooh Space Camera will be training a telescope in the Canary Islands to help us mere mortals out with a view of the space spectacle via the Web. You'll want to head to the Slooh website in advance to register your details to log in for the live event.
If this all seems a little bit last minute, that's because it is. 2012 LZ1 just came on the scene this week, being discovered on the night of June 10-11, by Rob McNaught and his colleagues who spotted it via the Uppsala Schmidt telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia.
It's big enough and coming by just close enough to the 4.65 million miles of Earth to deem it as part of that pesky near-Earth category that always seems to have us looking over our shoulders. Rest easy this time though; even though it is roughly the same size as 2005 YU55 that caused us to duck back in November, tonight's asteroid is much farther away.
2005 YU55 came within 200,000 miles of Earth, which even in retrospect is enough to make a person quiver. While technically in the close category it's clear that 2012 LZ1 is a mere tease in comparison.
Still, it's a good chance to sneak a little peak at the mysterious space objects that love to taunt Mother Earth. With some 9,000 asteroids counted in the near-Earth category to date it seems like a good idea to keep our eyes on them when we can.
Don't forget to visit the Slooh Website in advance to register to make sure you can do some asteroid spotting tonight live at 8:00 p.m. EST.