A large asteroid is expected to come close to Earth today, as it passes between us and the moon in its annual display. The clockwork asteroid has made appearances almost exactly one year apart from its previous appearance annually. Several astronomers are readying their telescopes to view the object as it passes remarkably close to Earth. And partially thanks to its regular mysterious orbit, many wonder if the object is actually nothing more than predictable space debris or if it could be something incredible.
The object isn’t expected to hit Earth as it continues spiraling around the planet, but it is expected to create quite a spectacle as it comes within 80,000 miles (one third the distance from Earth to the Moon) at around 7:45 Eastern Standard Time. Though it’s incredibly close for an asteroid, it doesn’t come anywhere near the 25,000 mark that was blazed by an asteroid in March of 2004, but it seems to come with more regularity.
The object is approximately 36 feet in diameter, and has been named 2010 AL30 by astronomers. At first it was suspected the asteroid may be a terrestrial object such as a spacecraft that got out of control and is now floating through space. Scientists suggest the location of the object doesn’t match any known space debris, particularly not of this size, and suggest the trajectory is entirely off for orbiting craft. In addition, they say any of the few circumstances where an object broke itself from an orbital trajectory, such as the Appollo 11 mission, the location was far from where 2010 AL30 appears now. But reading the description given by scientists, some have wondered if this may somehow be connected to the Soviet Space program’s lost cosmonauts. Of course some say the lost cosmonauts were nothing more than a cold war conspiracy theory.
Still, there are a number of theories behind what the object could or couldn’t be. Other suggestions, aside from a derelict human spacecraft are an abandoned craft of extraterrestrial origin. Of course this suggestion was likely thought up with no supporting evidence. Astronomers are satisfied that while unusually bright, the object is likely no more than a hunk of space rock floating close to the planet. Of course it will not be the only asteroid passing by. The next day, 2010 AG30 will be passing by at a distance of 650,000 miles.
The space rock AL30 will be as bright in the sky as a 14th magnitude star as it passes through several recognizable constellations on its journey around Earth including Pisces, Orion, and Taurus. Skywatchers are advised to keep this in mind when scanning the heavens for unusual activity. The object isn’t, however, expected to create too many false positives for UFO activity as it will be widely known beforehand and will largely mimic a satellite in many ways including relative speed and brightness in the sky. Still, many UFO reporting agencies are preparing for the few limited reports that come in of the asteroid being mistaken for a UFO.