Florence Flies By


A telescope at the Weizmann Institute of Science captures the path of an asteroid

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On the first of September this year, a relatively large asteroid passed close to the Earth. At seven million kilometers away, the asteroid, named Florence, was not close enough to be seen with the naked eye (and far enough away to pass by leaving the Earth unharmed). The telescope at the Kraar Observatory atop the Koffler Accelerator in the Weizmann Institute of Science was among those following the path of Florence in the night sky during the fly-by.

Ilan Manulis, the observatory’s director, who conducted the observations over two nights and compiled the video, says that the material will be used by Master’s students in the Rothschild-Weizmann Program for Teachers to conduct research for their thesis projects.

Florence, named for Florence Nightingale, was first discovered in 1981 in Australia. This is the closest the 4.4 km-wide asteroid has come to Earth since 1890, and it will pass us again that close sometime after the year 2500.