September 1 will be considered as one of most thrilling days in the History of Earth’s space science as on this day a very big and gigantic asteroid came very close to Earth in a record breaking encounter. The asteroid named ‘Florence’ is said to be 4.4 km wide and it was just 4.4 km (approximately 18 times the average distance between the Earth and the Moon) away from Earth giving it a near miss. According to NASA, it was the largest asteroid to zoom past Earth in such a close distance in more than a century.
Paul Chodas, Manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies informed that Florence is the largest asteroid to come so close to our planet since the NASA program to detect and track near-Earth steroids kick-started.
Actually asteroids are the debris that are left behind after formation of the Sun and the planets and Florence is one of them. In 1981, astronomer Schelte “Bobby” Bus discovered Florence at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. But the gigantic asteroid is said to be present since 1890 and this was its closest flyby recorded till date .Scientists have successfully tracked and mapped the orbit of Florence and they have estimated that the huge asteroid will not poise any threat to our planet and come so close to it until 2500.
As for the first time Florence came so close to Earth, scientists were able to get a better observation and study about the asteroid through powerful technologies like NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
The giant rock is said to be easily visible through any good observing equipment like a backyard telescope because its surface can reflect more than 20% of the sunlight. It was revealed that if this humongous asteroid would have hit our planet then it would have caused some serious destruction. But as of now, there is no danger from Florence and amateur astronomers and common people should enjoy getting a glimpse of this rare event as it is said that this type of event happens only once in every 40 years.