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Watch online as 2 asteroids sweep close this week

How to watch online this week as 2 newly discovered asteroids – 2018 CB and 2018 CC – sweep closer to Earth than the moon.

When an asteroid flew past at 10 times the moon’s distance on Super Bowl Sunday, generating much interest, I commented to others here at EarthSky on how potentially misleading such stories are. After all, asteroids sweep past Earth all the time. For example, today (February 5, 2018) we hear news of two newly discovered asteroids called 2018 CB and 2018 CC, which will come closer to us than the moon this week. The Super Bowl Sunday asteroid was a relatively large object; these two are likely small, because they’re newly discovered. The Virtual Telescope project has scheduled live, online coverage to show them to you. More about that below.

Asteroid 2018 CC will be closest to Earth on February 6 at a distance of 0.5 lunar distances (~118,983 miles or 191,485 km). This is the 9th known asteroid to fly by Earth within one lunar distance since the start of the year, 8th since January 15 and first this month. Its closest point to Earth will be at 20:45 UTC; translate UTC to your time. Its speed (relative to the Earth) of is ~6.5 miles per second (~10.5 km/s).

Asteroid 2018 CB will be closest to Earth on February 9 at a distance of 0.17 lunar-distances (~39,970 miles or 64,327 km). It will be the 10th known asteroid to fly by Earth within one lunar distance since 2018 began. Its closest point to Earth will be at 09:47 UTC; translate UTC to your time. Its speed relative to the Earth is about 5 miles per second (~8 km/s).

Online coverage. The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome will host live events for both asteroids, in partnership with Tenagra Observatories in the U.S. state of Arizona. Click here to go to the Virtual Telescope Project.

There will be two live events for 2018 CC:

– From Arizona, the live streaming will start on February 6, 2018, at 10:00 UTC.

– From Italy, the live streaming will start on February 6, 2018, at 20:00 UTC, covering the closest approach.

There will be one live event for 2018 CB:

– From Italy, the live streaming will start on February 9, 2018, at 20:00 UTC.

Both asteroids were found just days ago by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona, and both have been confirmed since then by other observatories.

Discovery announcement for 2018 CB

Discovery announcement for 2018 CC

This article will be updated as new information about these asteroids is obtained; for example, I haven’t yet seen an estimate of their size, but – again – because they were just discovered, it’s likely both are very small.

Artist’s concept of an asteroid passing near Earth. Why are we showing an artist’s concept? It’s because asteroids are so relatively small. Their very name means “starlike.” And, indeed, even the biggest asteroids look like stars in Earth’s sky, even through telescopes.

Bottom line: Information about two newly discovered asteroids – 2018 CB and 2018 CC – both of which will sweep within the moon’s distance to Earth in the second week of February 2018. Plus, how to watch online.

Deborah Byrd

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