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Archive for Saturday, July 1, 2006

Asteroid to make close, harmless pass by Earth

July 1, 2006

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— A huge asteroid will have a close encounter with Earth this weekend, but astronomers say there is no danger of an impact.

The asteroid, known as 2004 XP14, will whiz by about 269,000 miles from the Earth, slightly farther away than the moon.

The ringside seat to the cosmic spectacle will be in North America, where amateur sky watchers with good telescopes should be able see the asteroid as a small moving dot in the sky. Europe also can view the flyby, but the asteroid will appear much fainter.

The closest approach will occur on the U.S. West Coast about 11:25 p.m. CDT Sunday, but the best viewing time on both coasts most likely will be early Monday, scientists said.

Astronomers know little about the asteroid, which was discovered in 2004. But it is estimated to be as wide as a half-mile based on its brightness.

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