Three large asteroids are heading towards Earth and are due to arrive at the end of this week. Two of them are reported to be the size of airplanes, and the third is as large as a house.
2022 MS, which is 89feet long, will pass within 2million miles of Earth on July 1 and will rapidly be followed by the larger 120foot long 2022 MF on Saturday, July 2. On the same say the smaller 2022 MB1, as big as a house, will also make a close pass of Earth.
The near misses come after June 30 – International Asteroid Day. The team behind mobile Trading Card Game ‘Cards, the Universe and Everything’ have assembled the ultimate guide so you know exactly how to see asteroids, what equipment you might need and when the best time to see them is.
Asteroids are metallic or rocky bodies with no atmosphere. They can range from one-metre rocks, around the length of an average guitar, to dwarf planets with a diameter of approximately 600 miles; over 12 times bigger than the tallest building on Earth (the Burj Khalifa, Dubai). It’s believed that asteroids were first formed 4.6 billion years ago, back in the early days of the solar system, and are now spread all across the inner solar system. Most asteroids can be found in the main asteroid belt; a region between Mars and Jupiter. However, some asteroids orbit the Sun in a path that brings them close to Earth.
Asteroids have a tendency to crash into each other in space. Collisions on the larger side can cause small pieces of the asteroids to break off, creating meteoroids. With their newfound freedom, meteoroids sometimes take a trip to Earth – but only if they’re not completely vaporised in the atmosphere first. Most will burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, but there are many that make it as far as landing on our planet – scientists use these to develop a further understanding of the solar system and what it was like way back then.
Without a telescope, you’re going to have an incredibly tough time spotting any asteroids, unfortunately. If you’re able to find a particularly dark location with limited light pollution then you might be able to see Vesta – the brightest asteroid visible from Earth – with the naked eye, but there’s no guarantee. Vesta is currently in the constellation of Aquarius in the southern sky. You can use the Great Square of Pegasus asterism to guide you to the Aquarius constellation and spot Vesta from there. According to theskylive.com, Vesta currently rises at 12:25am and sets at 10:00am in the UK.
You can spot an asteroid just using a pair of cheap binoculars from the shop if it’s visible enough (there are many factors here, such as how large it is, how close to Earth it’s passing by and how clear the night sky is), but you won’t have a huge selection to see as you won’t be able to see very far at all using just a pair of binoculars.
You’ll want to get your hands on a CCD-equipped eight-inch telescope to see far enough to spot most asteroids; upping to an 11-inch or 12-inch telescope can produce even better results.
When looking through a telescope, you might think you can only see a group of stars; this is because asteroids reflect sunlight in the same manner as planets and appear very similar to stars as a result. However, as asteroids are within our solar system, they noticeably move against the starry background and that’s how you can spot them. The sky is naturally darkest between midnight and the very early hours of the morning, making it the perfect time to spot an asteroid.
Paul Mayze, Managing Director for www.cardstheuniverseandeverything.com, said: “Asteroids are just one of space’s many, many spectacular offerings. It’s impossible for us as humans to really fathom that asteroids have been around for 4.6 billion years. In a strange way, they’ve had the best seat in the house to observe our evolution as a species. Now, with the advancements of modern telescopes, we can observe them too. I would definitely recommend looking through a telescope on International Asteroid Day so you can see for yourself!”