A small asteroid will zoom close by Earth Wednesday, NASA scientists say. It may be visible to seasoned amateur astronomers as it passes harmlessly by the planet.
The space rock won't hit the Earth, but it will make its closest approach at 7:45 a.m. EST (1245 GMT) when it comes within 80,000 miles (130,000 km) of our planet. That's nearly one-third the distance between the Earth the moon.
Astronomers announced the discovery of the asteroid, which they named 2010 AL30, on Monday. It is relatively small, about 36 feet (11 meters) wide, NASA researchers said.
Professional astronomers have already snapped photos of the object and seasoned skywatchers may be able to do the same if they know where to look.
According to Spaceweather.com, 2010 AL30 will appear as bright as a 14th magnitude star and pass through the constellations Orion, Taurus and Pisces as it passes the Earth. Magnitude is a standard used by astronomers to measure the brightness of objects in the sky. The lower the number, the brighter the object, with the brightest stars in the sky categorized as either a zero or first magnitude.
2010 AL30 is not the only space rock passing relatively close by Earth this week. Another recently discovered object, known as 2010 AG30, will zip by the planet on Thursday. But that asteroid is about 43 feet (13 meters) wide, and will pass by at a comfortable distance of about 650,000 miles (1 million km) from Earth, NASA scientists said.
Space.com. has contributed to the report.