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Will You Be Able To See It? Mile-Wide Asteroid With Its Own Moon Set To Do A Flyby This Weekend

1999 KW4 asteroid, scheduled to pass Earth on Saturday, May 25
1999 KW4 asteroid, scheduled to pass Earth on Saturday, May 25 Photo Credit: NASA

Prepare yourselves, astronomy fans: a mile-wide “double asteroid” is approaching Earth and may be visible on Saturday night, May 25, according to the Farmers’ Almanac.

The asteroid is categorized as 1999 KW4 and consists of a primary space rock just under a mile wide.

The asteroid also has a .3-mile-wide “companion” asteroid, which experts are calling an “asteroid moon” in orbit.

The 1999 KW4 completes an orbit around the Sun once every 6.18 months (188 days).

Though the asteroid will undoubtedly be difficult to spot, there are some amateur astronomers who will take initiative and attempt to locate it as it passes by Earth. Even at its brightest, however, it will be around 12th magnitude, which is about 250 times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen with the naked eye.

Still, the asteroid raises some concerns regarding the ongoing risk of a celestial object affecting the Earth.

“We know today that our planet is literally in a celestial shooting gallery. And it is not a matter of “if” an asteroid impacts our planet, but when,” writes Joe Rao, Farmers’ Almanac contributing astronomer. “In fact, there are nearly 2,000 “PHA’s” (Potentially Hazardous Asteroids) that have a potential of colliding with Earth, and 1999 KW4 is one of them. New ones are being found all the time.”

Of course, for the time being, experts say we’re set to “dodge yet another cosmic bullet” as the asteroid passes through Earth’s orbit this weekend.

"Most of us will not be able to see 1999 KW4 as it streaks past us on Saturday evening," Rao says. 

To view a list of PHAs that have a potential of colliding with Earth, click here.

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