WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- An asteroid roughly 850 feet in diameter will pass by Earth tonight, and the spectacle will be broadcast live on the internet.
Scientists say the asteroid's trajectory puts it a safe distance away from Earth. But a space rock the size of three football fields traveling 27,000 mph this close to Earth is still quite the occurrence. At its closest point, scientists say, the asteroid will be roughly 9 lunar distances away, or a few million miles.
As asteroid 2000 EM26 draws near, the robotic telescopes of Slooh will be trained on the rock's path. Slooh is a private space-gazing company that streams live images of the surrounding solar system via its website. Slooh's live coverage of the asteroid's flyby will begin tonight at 9 p.m. EST.
Last year as scientists watched another near-Earth object, 2000 EM26, skirt past, another unrelated and unexpected space rock entered Earth's atmosphere and exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia. The sonic boom caused substantial damage to buildings, shattering glass and sending several hundred people to the hospital.
"We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids -- sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth," Slooh's technical and research director, Paul Cox, said in a statement. "Slooh’s asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with Slooh members using the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this huge population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We need to find them before they find us!"