By Eddie Irizarry in Astronomy Essentials | Space | August 23, 2017
Named for Florence Nightingale, asteroid 3122 Florence is the biggest near-Earth object to pass this close since this category of objects was discovered over a century ago! It might be visible in binoculars.
The next attraction coming up in our skies might be an asteroid big enough to be seen in small telescopes, and maybe even in binoculars, as a small, very slow-moving ?star.? Asteroid 1981 ET3 ? also known as 3122 Florence ? is a huge space rock at least 2.7 miles (4.35 km) in diameter. According to Paul Chodas at the Center for Near Earth Object Studies:
Florence is the largest asteroid to pass this close to our planet since the first near-Earth asteroid was discovered over a century ago.
Asteroid 3122 Florence will safely pass by our planet on September 1, 2017 at over 18 times the Earth-moon distance. The asteroid will not be visible to the unaided eye. It will, however, become visible in small amateur telescopes by late August, in the course of what will become the closest encounter to Earth by this asteroid since 1890.
It won?t come this close again until after the year 2500.
The Virtual Telescope Project will offer a live stream of the asteroid pass on August 31, 2017, beginning at 19:30 UTC; translate to your time zone.