A few hours before a total lunar eclipse, the planet will pass “close” to Earth.

A few hours before a total lunar eclipse, the planet will pass “close” to Earth.

Many are looking forward to seeing the first total lunar eclipse of 2022, starting at 11:28 on Sunday (15) and ending at 2:55 on Monday (16). But this real spectacle will not be the only notable event in this great night sky: just hours before, an asteroid will pass “near” the earth – and estimates suggest that it is 200 meters in diameter and about half a kilometer in diameter. May be between

In addition to the long-awaited full lunar eclipse, this Sunday (15) asteroid 2008 TZ3 will pass “close” to Earth. Photo: pinkfloyd yilmaz uslu – Shutterstock

Called the 2008 TZ3, space rock can come within 5.8 million kilometers of our planet (which is certainly a huge and safe distance, but relatively small in astronomical proportions).

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According to data from NASA’s Center for the Study of Near Earth Objects (CNEOS), the planet’s closest approach to Earth will be around 18:18 GMT, just five hours before the start of the lunar eclipse.

It is important to make clear that there is no reason to panic, as there is no chance of hitting the ground. “The 2008 TZ3 will fly about 15 times the distance from the moon,” CNEOOS director Paul Choudas told the American website Newsweek. “We know the orbit of this asteroid very accurately and can confidently predict that it will not be able to come closer than 15 lunar distances on May 15.”

According to Choudas, the asteroid will travel at a speed of about 29,500 kilometers per hour, which is nine times faster than a bullet fired from a rifle.

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It is not possible to know the exact size of the asteroid.

Columnist for Marcelo Zurita Digital lookThe president of the Praeba Association of Astronomy (APA) and technical director of the Brazilian Meteor Observatory Network (Bramon) said it was not possible to determine the exact size of the space rock.

“The orbit of this asteroid is well defined, so the information we have about it is accurate. However, there is no way to know the exact size. All we have is the brightness. And the brightness is something that can vary depending on the albido, which has the ability to reflect light to the surface of the rock, “Zurita explained.

According to him, there are two ways to calculate the size of a planet. “One of the most accurate is to observe stellar magic. When a planet passes in front of a star, its period can be measured, which makes it possible to calculate its size accurately. And another. Albido is calculated by measuring the reflection index of the rock. This is done by means of spectral analyzes, in order to determine the surface structure of the asteroid, and from there we can calculate its albido.

Zurita said neither study was conducted on the 2008 TZ3, which is why the estimates are incorrect. It can be compared to a 40-story building (200 meters) or higher than Sugar Loaf Mountain (400 meters).

The 2008 TZ3 came closer to Earth on three occasions than it did this year: in 2016, 2018 and 2020. The vision of 2018 was the smallest: about six lunar distances (approximately 2.3 million kilometers).

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