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Witness cosmic double play of Neptune, 'Dodgeball' Asteroid tonight

Last Updated: Saturday, August 30, 2014 - 12:22
Witness cosmic double play of Neptune, 'Dodgeball' Asteroid tonight

Washington: Astronomers can enjoy a cosmic double play of Neptune and 'Dodgeball' Asteroid tonight.

The planetary alignment has been known as an "opposition" of Neptune, because the "ice giant" planet and the sun are opposite each other in Earth's sky, Discovery News reported.

Sky watchers can spot Neptune in the constellation Aquarius, to the left of the star Sigma Aquarii. Neptune would look like a dim blue star, and it would be highest in the sky between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time.

The second event focuses on the 730 meters asteroid 2002 CU11, which would fly by Earth tonight at a distance of 21.2 million kilometers, or about 13.5 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

The show would start at 8 p.m. EDT (midnight GMT Aug. 30), when the online Slooh Community Observatory will air a live four-hour show to mark an alignment of Neptune, Earth and the sun. Once that webcast ends at midnight EDT (0400 GMT), Slooh would cover the flyby of near-Earth asteroid 2002 CU11, nicknamed "Dodgeball" because of its frequent close approaches to Earth.

There would be no chance that "Dodgeball" would hit Earth on this pass, and orbit calculations show that the asteroid poses no danger for the foreseeable future. If 2002 CU11 ever did hit the planet, however, the results would be dramatic. The collision would unleash as much energy as 53,000 megatons of TNT. 


First Published: Saturday, August 30, 2014 - 12:22

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