‘Potentially Hazardous’ Asteroid Flying Between The Moon And Earth This Week In Rare Event

A 200-foot (58 meters) wide asteroid is set to fly much closer to our planet than the distance to the moon this Saturday.

While asteroid 2023 DZ2 poses no threat of impacting Earth during this visit, there is a miniscule chance it could hit us when it returns in 2026.

This big space rock is much larger than almost all others ever found cruising inside the moon’s orbit. It’s common to see asteroids measuring a few meters across coming close to Earth and even impacting our atmosphere once or twice a year, but this is a real big ‘un.

It’s wide enough that when it comes within .45 lunar distances, or 107,500 miles (173,000 kilometers) of Earth, it could be sufficiently big and bright in the night sky to view with binoculars.

That’s more than a wide enough berth that we can all sleep well this week without worrying that 2023 DZ2 might level a city somewhere. Meanwhile the stream of observations of this newfound object, which was just discovered a few weeks ago, is causing its impact probability in 2026 to jump around a bit.

At one point it appeared that the chances of a collision on March 27, 2026 were as low as one-in-430. As of this writing on Monday, NASA lists the impact probability at one-in-71,000. On the European Space Agency’s “risk list” of near-Earth objects with a higher than zero chance of impacting Earth, 2023 DZ2 currently ranks 31 out of nearly 1,500 objects.

Some observers expect an impact in 2026 to be completely ruled out by the time it makes its close approach this weekend.

All of this is a way of saying there’s no real reason to worry about any danger from this asteroid. Nonetheless, you will continue to hear it referred to as “potentially hazardous” because that’s a term that astronomers use to classify near-Earth objects. Any object of a certain size and distance to Earth receives the label by definition regardless of the actual threat or hazard it poses to our planet.

In the very unlikely event that 2023 DZ2 did impact the planet, it would probably do some damage, which could be catastrophic if it were to strike near a populated area. The asteroid appears to be about two to three times larger than the bolides that struck Russia in 1908 and 2013. The former flattened a large area of remote Siberian forest and may have been linked to three deaths. The latter exploded in the atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk, blowing out thousands of windows, damaging buildings and causing hundreds of mostly minor injuries.

But again, the odds of this happening appear to be vanishingly remote.

It is still a fascinating and rare opportunity to see such a large asteroid come so close. Websites and apps like TheSkyLive and Stellarium can help you try to spot 2023 DZ2 later this week as it brightens and appears to trundle across the sky like a slow-moving star.

If weather doesn’t cooperate or you don’t have the patience or gear to see it yourself, the Virtual Telescope Project will also be hosting an online watch party via YouTube.

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