A ‘potentially hazardous asteroid’ is all set to zoom past Earth on March 21, 2021. Unlike many other celestial objects which sweep past our planet, this one is potentially hazardous as it’s the largest and the fastest asteroid which will pass by Earth in 2021. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the object named Asteroid 2001 FO32 does not pose the risk of impact and its orbit is well-known.
As reported by Earth Sky, the asteroid which will be moving at a speed of 21 miles (34.4 km) per second will come closest to Earth on March 21. The diameter of Asteroid 2001 FO32 is about 1 kilometre. This phenomenon will happen at 9:33 pm IST (11:03 am ET). Even at its closest, FO32 will be about 1.3 million miles (2,016,351 km) or 5 lunar distances away.
The speed of FO32 is going to be incredibly fast and although it is larger than 97 percent of asteroids, it will not be visible to the naked eye. Astronomers and space enthusiasts will be able to observe its motion using 8''or larger telescopes. They will be able to watch its drift in front of the stars in real time using a backyard telescope. This is not possible with several asteroids as it takes 5 to 10 minutes for them to be detected by these telescopes. This time, the approach of the celestial body is the closest to the Earth in 200 years. After the March 21 appearance, Asteroid 2001 FO32 will next pass by Earth 31 years later on March 22, 2052.
The report also mentions special instructions for the observers in different regions to see the Asteroid 2001 FO32. It said that the asteroid is placed relatively low in the southern sky so the northern observers can try to spot the asteroid when it passes through the southern constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius as it comes close to the Earth. Those observers who are in the southern hemisphere and lower latitudes will be able to observe the Asteroid 2001 FO32 better.
First discovered by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) on March 23, 2001, Asteroid 2001 FO32 is carried around the sun every 810 days by its orbit. It was discovered at Socorro, New Mexico by using the instruments that are present at the Lincoln Laboratory's Experimental Test Site (ETS).