Washington: Apophis, an asteroid with an estimated diameter of almost three football fields (270m), will make its close approach to Earth tonight.
Slooh Space Camera will cover its near-approach on January 9, with several live shows on Slooh.com, free to the public, starting at 4 pm.
This is not the first time Apophis has whizzed past Earth.
Discovered in 2004 by astronomers at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, Apophis was calculated at the time to have a 1 in 45 chance of it hitting the Earth in 2029.
Thankfully, improved prediction models have eliminated those concerns, but there still is a chance Apophis could impact Earth sometime in the distant future, perhaps as soon as 2036.
In 2029, Apophis will still give Earth a very close shave as it will fly past at only 30,000 km. In comparison, the Moon orbits the Earth at 385,000 km and communication satellites at 36,000 km.
At its maximum brightness, Apophis on January 9 will be at a magnitude of 19.7 -- not bright enough to view through a backyard telescope, but reasonably bright through Slooh telescopes in the Canary Islands.
First Published: Wednesday, January 09, 2013, 12:09