A mile-long, walnut-shaped asteroid with its own moon is set to pass Earth on Saturday, according to scientists.
The asteroid, known as 1999 KW4, will come within 3.2 million miles of Earth -- its second-closest approach in the past 20 years, WGRZ-TV reported. While this is considered close it’s still a safe distance from Earth.
Huge double asteroid to pass safely May 25 🌌— EarthSky (@earthskyscience) May 19, 2019
Astronomers will be observing asteroid 1999 KW4 - oddly shaped, about a mile wide, with a companion moon - around its closest approach on May 25. Read more: https://t.co/UCBILXQOeu 👓
Images via Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. pic.twitter.com/Xi4kAYfELB
The asteroid is considered a binary system, meaning it consists of one large asteroid and a smaller moon orbiting it, CNet reported. The Las Cumbres Observatory describes its shape as “slightly squashed at the poles and with a mountain ridge around the equator, which runs all the way around the asteroid. This ridge gives the primary an appearance similar to a walnut or a spinning top.”
The asteroid will best be observed Saturday from the Southern Hemisphere. However, stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere may be able to catch a glimpse of it Monday using an 8-inch-diameter telescope, EarthSky.org reported.
The next time the asteroid will be visible from Earth will be in 2036, when it will be even closer.
More information about viewing 1999 KW4 can be found here.