Asteroid 2018 VX1 will zip past the Earth in the early evening hours of Saturday, November 10. NASA’s astronomers expect the asteroid to make its closest approach around 6.20pm GMT (UTC). Although the asteroid will not come close enough to strike the Earth, the space rock will approach the planet closer than the Moon.
Courtesy of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, you can watch the moment Asteroid VX1 swings by the planet online here.
The asteroid live stream will kick off on Saturday from 6pm GMT (UTC), about 30 minutes before the asteroid shows up.
Gianluca Masi, head of the Virtual Telescope Project, said: “Next November 10, 2018, at 6.26pm UTC the 8m to 18m-large asteroid 2018 VX1 discovered on November 4, 2018, by the Mt Lemmon Survey, will safely approach the Earth, coming a bit closer than the Moon – 380,000km.
“At Virtual Telescope we will show it live, online, next November 10, 2018, starting at 6pm UTC, to cover the moment of its minimum distance from us.”
Ahead of the livestream, Mr Masi managed to capture an incredible snapshot of the asteroid barrelling towards our home planet.
The 180-second-long exposure of the night sky shows a tiny blip of light about 932,000 miles (1.5 million km) from Earth – the asteroid.
Mr Masi wrote on his website: “The image above comes from the average of eight, 180-second exposures, remotely taken with ‘Elena’ robotic unit available at Virtual Telescope.
“The telescope tracked the apparent motion of the asteroid, this is why stars show as small trails, while the asteroid looks like a sharp dot of light in the centre of the image, marked by two red lines.”
According to NASA’s calculations, the asteroid measures anywhere between 25.9ft and 59ft (7.9m and 18m) in diameter.
Asteroid VX1 is an Apollo-type space rock which means it is a “near-Earth” asteroid with an orbital path similar to that of Asteroid 1862 Apollo.
The space rock is currently barrelling through space at breakneck speeds of around 13,555mph or 6.06km per second.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory estimates VX1 will reach a minimum distance from Earth of about 0.00255 astronomical units (au) or 0.99 Lunar Distances (LD).
One astronomical unit is the distance between the Earth and the Sun – about 93 million miles (149.59 million km).
Asteroid VX1 will close this distance down to just 237,037 miles (381,474 km).
This might seem like a lifetime away, but on the astronomical scale of distances, an Earth Approach like this is an incredibly close brush.
NASA said: “As they orbit the Sun, Near-Earth Objects can occasionally approach close to Earth.
“Note that a ‘close’ passage astronomically can be very far away in human terms: millions or even tens of millions of kilometres.”
But this will not be the last time we hear of the asteroid.
At about 10.55pm GMT, the space rock will make a Close Approach to the Moon.
After that, the asteroid will continue to swing around the Sun until it crosses paths with the Earth again and again in the years to come.
NASA predicts Asteroid VX1 will pay a visit to our corner of space once more on October 28 in 2026, October 17 in 2034, March 25 in 2035 and October 8 in 2042.