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

An asteroid will pass harmlessly by Earth this weekend. With the right equipment and timing, you can spot it.

The space rock, dubbed 2024 MK, will make its closest approach to Earth on Saturday morning, passing about three-quarters of the way from Earth to the moon. It was first spotted two weeks ago by a South African observatory and measures about 393 feet to 853 feet (120 meters to 260 meters) across.

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

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

A 7,579-foot (2,310-meter) asteroid safely passed near Earth on Thursday, but it was far away and was only visible with specialized 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 star field,” said Nick Moskowitz, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory.

Viewers in the Southern Hemisphere will have the opportunity to see the asteroid better, as the asteroid will appear higher than Earth. Viewers in the United States may prefer to wait until Saturday evening, when the asteroid may appear less bright, but it will be easier to spot it without interference with bright 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 to 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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