A harmless asteroid will pass close to Earth on Saturday. Here’s how to spot it

An asteroid will fly by Earth at high speed this week without causing any harm. With the right equipment and timing, you might be able to spot it.

The space asteroid, named 2024 MK, will reach its closest approach to Earth on Saturday morning, where it will pass three-quarters of the distance from Earth to the Moon. It was first observed by a South African observatory two weeks ago, and is between 393 to 853 feet (120 to 260 meters) across.

Smaller objects pass near Earth all the time, says asteroid expert David Farnocchia of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies. Asteroids the size of this latest asteroid pass by Earth every 25 years or so.

“We’ll see a few of these things during our lifetime, but it’s not something that happens every day,” he said.

An asteroid with a diameter of 7,579 feet (2,310 meters) passed safely by Earth on Thursday, but it was farther away and was only visible using professional telescopes.

On Saturday, sky watchers will need to use a small telescope because the asteroid is not bright enough to see with the naked eye. It will move quickly across the southern sky, making it difficult to see.

“The asteroid will pass through this field of stars,” said Nick Moskowitz, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory.

Viewers in the Southern Hemisphere will have the best chance of seeing it because the asteroid will appear higher. People in the United States may want to wait until Saturday evening, when the asteroid may appear less bright but will be easier to see without interference from blinding sunlight.

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If you miss it, mark your calendar for April 13, 2029, when an asteroid called Apophis will pass by Earth and will be visible with the naked eye from parts of Europe, Africa and Asia.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Education Media Group. The Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

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