Ways to Check Out the Fancy Big Asteroid Tonight
Image from NASA
An asteroid is swinging by Earth tonight and even though the massive flying rock (that's a technical term) won't be super visible to the naked eye, NASA has got you covered.
The asteroid, known as 2004 BL86, is scheduled to fly by Earth and it should be closest to us at 10:19 p.m. tonight. While the asteroid, which is about a third of a mile long, will be close enough to the planet to make scientists and other sky-watching types giddy with anticipation, we won't actually be able to see the thing with the naked eye because the asteroid won't be getting brighter until it's already zoomed past us.
But those who are not NASA scientists with big fancy telescopes need not despair. NASA has thoughtfully provided a few different ways to enjoy this non-impact asteroid event. NASA has an entire website devoted to keeping an eye on asteroids -- it's called Asteroid Watch -- and the website is chock-full of useful information, including a chart listing the various asteroids they're tracking with an estimate of when they'll be passing closest to Earth and how close they'll actually get. You can also follow the doings of Asteroid Watch on Twitter if you want to have a real social media experience with the passing asteroid. And if you don't have a telescope or binoculars you can still watch 2004 BL86 zoom by from the comfort of your computer through the Virtual Telescope Project 2.0.
Yep, you can watch the asteroid without even leaving your couch. It's a brave new world indeed.