200-foot asteroid 2023 DZ2 to pass closer than moon
Yet another newly discovered space rock will safely zip past Earth, this one on March 25, 2023. It’ll sweep by at about half the Earth-moon distance. Astronomers at the observatory of La Palma, in the Canary Islands, Spain, discovered the asteroid in late February 2023. And amateur astronomers might get a glimpse of the asteroid as it speeds past. See the charts at the bottom of this post.
Closest approach to Earth is thought to occur at around 19:51 UTC (3:51 p.m. EDT) on March 25. But the exact time and other details might be updated as more observations come in.
Apollo-type asteroid #2023DZ2. Diameter 39-87m. First observed at La Palma: 27th Feb' Close approach today. Distance 175,000 km from Earth. #SpotTheAsteroid #IAWN #QHY42Pro @QHYCCD @RoyalAstroSoc @skyatnightmag @SPACEdotcom @esaoperations @AsteroidWatch pic.twitter.com/O95YXuxFKr
— Northolt Branch Obs (@NBObservatories) March 25, 2023
Estimates of its size are between 141 and 312 feet (43 and 95 meters) in diameter. For comparison, the asteroid that entered over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013 was a space rock around 65 feet (20 meters) in diameter. Watch a video of size comparisons in asteroids here.
2023 DZ2 is classified as a NEO (Near Earth Object). It orbits the sun every 3.16 years.
No risk of impact in 2026
For a while, this new asteroid posed a very slight risk of impact with Earth on March 27, 2026. Fortunately, as of March 21, 2023, officials have removed it from the Sentry Risk Table, saying they are:
…able to rule out previous potential impacts as no longer consistent with the observations.
?Astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network are using this close approach to learn as much as possible about 2023 DZ2 in a short time period – good practice for #PlanetaryDefense in the future if a potential asteroid threat were ever discovered.
— NASA Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) March 21, 2023
Visible in small telescopes
Asteroid 2023 DZ2 will pass 0.5 lunar distances (half the Earth-moon distance) from Earth’s surface. The relative closeness will enable observers to see the space rock in six-inch (15 cm) and larger diameter telescopes.
The space rock is traveling at a speed of 17,403 miles per hour (28,008 km/h), or 7.78 km per second, relative to Earth. While it sounds like a huge speed relative to what we’re familiar with on Earth, it’s a relatively slow asteroid in contrast to other space rocks that astronomers study.
Since the asteroid will be passing at half the Earth-moon distance, the small distance will make it appear as a “slow-moving star” in the field of a small telescope. And you may even be able to detect its motion in real time!
One of the best techniques sky enthusiasts use to catch an asteroid, is to point the telescope at a known star in the asteroid’s path. Then they just wait for the slowly moving space rock to appear. Fortunately, many small telescopes now include a computerized Go-To hand control. Thus, you can point the instrument at a reference star to get a glimpse of the passing object.
Astronomers at the Goldstone Antenna in California will try to obtain radar images of the space rock between March 23-26.
When is the best time to see asteroid 2023 DZ2?
We found the best time to see asteroid 2023 DZ2 from the Northern Hemisphere will be early on the night of Friday, March 24, 2023. Good luck, and clear skies to you!
Bottom line: Newly discovered asteroid 2023 DZ2 will safely pass Earth at less than half the distance between the moon and Earth on March 24-25, 2023. People with telescopes should be able to spot the visitor.