An Asteroid Named Florence Just Flew by Earth

Gigantic asteroid 'Florence' to pass by Earth today

Asteroid Florence, a 2.7-mile wide space rock, will be buzzing the planet.

The encounter that had kept the scientists drooling, occurred at around 5.35 pm (India time), when the asteroid came within a mere 4.4 million miles (7 million km) of Earth - just 18 times the distance from our planet to the moon.

Although it may not wipe out life on our planet, if Florence or an asteroid similar in size were to impact Earth, it could be catastrophic, creating a huge crater and wreaking havoc in areas close to its impact point.

"They were estimated to be smaller", said Paul Chodas, Manager of NASA's Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"The resulting radar images will show the real size of Florence and also could reveal surface details as small as about 30 feet (10 metres)", said NASA.

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Asteroid Florence is among the largest near-Earth asteroids that are several miles in size, according to NASA.

NASA has tracked Florence for years, ever since its discovery in 1981, and this flyby will be the closest the space rock has ever been to Earth since 1890.

Amateur astronomers - anyone with a backyard telescope, really - will have the opportunity over the next few nights to peep the fly-by by Florence, which is brightening through early September as it moves through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius and Delphinus.

JPL manages and operates NASA's Deep Space Network, including the Goldstone Solar System Radar, and hosts the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies for NASA's Near-Earth Object Observations Program, an element of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office within the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

The asteroid owes its name to Florence Nightingale, founder of modern school of nurses.

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