See asteroid 2012 TC4's close brush with Earth on 11-12 October

NASA projection of Asteroid 2012 TC4 path

On its 609-day loop around the Sun, TC4 will return to Earth in 2050 and 2079, according to Ruediger Jehn of the European Space Agency's Near-Earth Object programme in the Netherlands.

In other words, if there's a real, Armageddon-style asteroid threatening Earth, expert bodies around the world will be able to detect it and hopefully be able to come up with a better plan than sending a bunch of oil drillers up in space to divert it away from sending us into oblivion.

2012 TC4 is estimated to be around 15 metres across, is probably an elongated shape, and is moving at around 7.6 km/second relative to Earth.

A week after being discovered in October 2012, TC4 passed us at a distance of 58,900 miles (94,800 kilometers).

The asteroid's close approach will allow teams to evaluate how accurate they were in predicting its orbit and size, while using telescopes to learn more about its composition.

Recently, a enormous asteroid named Florence came record-breaking close to Earth during its fly-by and now our Earth is gearing up to witness another near-miss flyby of a house-sized asteroid.

As its name suggests, the object was first spotted five years ago when it called on Earth at about double Thursday's projected distance, before disappearing from view.

A Slooh spokesperson said: "At the moment of the asteroid's approach, Slooh will train its telescopes on 2012 TC4 in an attempt to capture the fast-moving space rock as it flies between Earth and the Moon".

Many scientists believe that the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid.

An asteroid the size of a large house will pass by Earth at a distance of around 27,000 miles (44,000km) on Thursday. This chart shows stars down to magnitude +6.

If you thought that your chances of viewing this near-Earth asteroid from the United Kingdom would be slim owing to its small size, think again.

Asteroid 2012 TC4 is back for another visit nearly four years to the day since it was seen for the first time zipping by our planet. By this time 2012 TC4 is predicted to be magnitude +14.3, visible in 10-inch telescopes, and travelling at a rate close to 2 degrees per hour against the background stars of Aquarius. This is probably about the last time most United Kingdom observers with 8-inch-class telescopes will see the asteroid, low in the southwest. But for now, we can relax that it will pass by in complete safety.

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