© Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project
Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi of the Virtual Telescope project snapped this image of yet another near-Earth asteroid, 2012 TC4, on Oct. 10, 2012. The asteroid will fly within an astonishing 59,000 miles of Earth on Oct. 12.
A newfound asteroid the size of a house will fly closer to Earth than the moon on Friday (Oct. 12), but poses no danger of impacting our planet, NASA says.
The space rock, called asteroid 2012 TC4
, is about 56 feet wide (17 meters) and will come within 59,000 miles (95,000 kilometers) of Earth at its closest point when it zips harmlessly by on Friday. That's about one-fourth the distance to the moon.
But you don't have to wait to see live views of the interloping space rock: There are two live webcasts of the asteroid
today (Oct. 11). The Virtual Telescope Project and Slooh Space Camera, two groups that offer live telescope views of space via the Internet, will be providing the asteroid imagery.
The Virtual Telescope Project in Italy run by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi will provide a live telescope view of asteroid 2014 TC4 starting at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT) via the project's WebTV. You can access the webcast here
Masi has already recorded several videos of asteroid 2012 TC4
, and will provide live commentary during the webcast. He said the public is often attracted to asteroid flybys because of their connection with asteroid impacts on Earth. But there is scientific value behind them as well.
"Asteroids are very intriguing bodies, strongly connected with the origin of our solar system," Masi told SPACE.com in an email. "When an asteroid approaches our planet, we have good chances to study them better, especially small ones."
The Slooh Space Camera views of asteroid 2012 TC4 will be webcast later today at 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT) and will be available here
"One of our missions at Slooh is to provide the public with free, live coverage of amazing celestial events," said Slooh President Patrick Paolucci in a statement. "We will be tracking asteroid 2012 TC4 live from our observatory located on the Canary Islands - off the coast of West Africa."