Skip to content

How to Watch an Asteroid Larger Than Three Boeing 737s Pass Earth Tonight

May 15, 2018
2 min read
How to Watch an Asteroid Larger Than Three Boeing 737s Pass Earth Tonight
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

A massive near-Earth asteroid named 2010 WC9 is scheduled to zoom past Earth Tuesday evening. It's expected to safely pass us at a staggering speed of more than 28,600 miles per hour.

Though estimates vary, the asteroid is thought to be between 197 and 430 feet long (for context, that’s somewhere between the length of a single Airbus A330 and three Boeing 737-MAX 10s).

Few asteroids of this size have ever been observed passing this close to Earth, according to Earthsky.org.

Despite its magnitude and relative proximity to Earth (some 126,419 miles), the asteroid will not be visible to the unaided eye. But NASA representatives say amateur astronomers can easily watch the space rock pass Earth with an eight-inch telescope.

“At closest approach,” David C. Agle, a media relations specialist from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory told TPG, “the asteroid will be ‘under’ our planet — in particular, over the coast of Antarctica, on the southern edge of the Indian Ocean."

Fortunately, you don’t need to be on an icebreaker cruise to witness the rare phenomenon (this particular asteroid hasn't come this close to our planet in nearly 300 years).

Sign up for our daily newsletter

"A good observing spot," Agle pointed out, "would be Cape Town, South Africa.”

Train your telescope at the sky around 6:05pm EST, or just past midnight on the coast of Africa, for your best chance at observing the asteroid.

Don’t have your telescope handy? Northholt Branch Observatories in the UK caught a live stream of the asteroid as it passed over London after midnight Tuesday morning.

Featured image by Corbis via Getty Images

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers