Near mile-wide asteroid with its own moon to pass by Earth

Near mile-wide asteroid with its own moon to pass by Earth”

The over 1.5-km wide and equally long asteroid and its 500-m radius moon will come close to Earth at 4:35 am IST Sunday (11:05 pm UTC Saturday). According to recent reports, the asteroid is going to pass by Earth at 7.05 p.m. ET, when the paired objects will be about 3 million miles from Earth and moving at a speed of about 50,000 miles per hour.

The space rock, known as asteroid 1999 KW4, was discovered 20 years ago and is so large that it is orbited by a moon.

Don't worry if you miss it - 1999 KW4 will pass by Earth again on May 25, 2036.

1999 KW4 is classified a "Potentially Hazardous Asteroid", but that NASA designation is nothing fear, officials said.

The asteroid completes an orbit once every 186 days.

Traveling at a speed of 48,000 miles per hour, the said asteroid is so large that it has a moon-like space rock orbiting it.

During its closest approach the asteroid will have more favorable viewing conditions in the southern hemisphere before it potentially becomes more visible in the northern by May 27.

Earth will be getting not one but two visitors from space this weekend. "This ridge gives the primary an appearance similar to a walnut or a spinning top".

1999 KW4 was first discovered in 1999 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) facility in New Mexico.

"The space rock will not be visible to the naked eye alone but sky enthusiasts equipped with eight-inch in diameter and bigger telescopes might be able to see the asteroid, which might reach a visual magnitude of around 12 during closest approach", he added. It is believed that the YORP effect is also one of the causes for the creation of binary asteroids such as the 1999 KW4.

The closest it's expected to come to our planet is on May 25.

The US space agency has revealed it plans to crash a 13,500mph spacecraft into an asteroid as part of a nail-biting planetary defence plan.

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