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Largest Asteroid Florence Will Fly by Earth in September

Largest Asteroid Florence Will Fly by Earth in September

Florence has not come this close to the Earth since 1890 and will not pass so close again until after the year 2500.

Since 1998, when NASA first began tracking potentially hazardous objects, it has spotted over 16,000 NEOs. The asteroid, named Florence, is one of the biggest near-Earth objects (NEOs) now being tracked by NASA and will be the largest to pass us at a relatively close distance since the space agency began monitoring them 20 years ago.

A giant asteroid will fly by Earth on September 1, 2017. NASA is planning on conducting radar studies of Florence using the Goldstone Solar System Radar in California, and the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Arecibo Observatory in Peurto Rico. Its trajectory will place it 4.4 million miles from the planet, roughly 18 times the distance between Earth and the moon. Measurements from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission indicate it is about 4.4 kilometres in size.

The asteroid, named Florence, will be the largest to pass this close to Earth since NASA began keeping track of near-Earth objects (NEO). "Florence will brighten to ninth magnitude in late August and early September, when it will be visible in small telescopes for several nights as it moves through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Delphinus".

The resulting radar images will show the real size of Florence and also could reveal surface details as small as about 10 meters.

Scientist Schelte "Bobby" Bus first observed Florence in 1981 from the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. "If Florence has a satellite, then our chances of detecting it are excellent, and if so, then we plan to measure its motion to estimate the orbital parameters, mass, and density of the system", NASA said.

Most of the scientists are considering it a great opportunity to study these Asteroids closely.

In October this year, an even closer encounter is expected when asteroid 2012 TC4 will come within just 13 percent of the distance between the Earth and the moon-about 31,000 miles.

The relief though is that this rock is much smaller, measuring only 15 m (49 ft) across.