QE2 Asteroid Live Stream: Watch It Fly By Earth Dragging Its Own Moon [VIDEO]

By iScienceTimes Staff on May 31, 2013 2:57 PM EDT

nasa moon
The QE2 asteroid has picked up a moon as it makes its way past Earth. (Photo: NASA)

As professional and amateur astronomers prepare to watch the QE2 asteroid zoom past Earth, NASA scientists were somewhat surprised to discover that early images of the asteroid show a moon traveling in its wake.

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The moon is twice as big as a cruise ship, making it comparatively small next to asteroid 1998 QE2 -- which is as big as nine cruise ships. That's 1.7 miles long.

There is no danger of the QE2 asteroid hitting Earth, scientists say. QE2 will not come any closer than 3.6 million miles away, or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon. It will be closest to the Earth at 4:59 PM EST today.

As a point of trivia, if the asteroid did hit Earth, it would pack quite a punch. The moon alone would wipe out an area the size of Virginia.

As a further point of trivia, the scientific theory that says the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was caused by an asteroid posits an impact from a space rock six miles wide. That means the QE2 asteroid is about a third the size of the asteroid that wiped out all dinosaurs.

With the addition of the moon traveling with QE2, the asteroid is now considered a binary asteroid. This isn't that uncommon; QE2 is a near-earth asteroid, and among NEAs that are at least 655 feet across, some 16 percent are binary or even trinary (three-part) systems.

NASA is studying the QE2 until June 9, at which point it will be out of reach, returning to our neighborhood again in some 200 years.

If you want to watch the QE2 asteroid for yourself, it will take a NASA-grade radar telescope. If that's not convenient, you can watch from your computer in a variety of ways.

The Slooh Space Camera will be live streaming the asteroid's flight past Earth with a team commentary led by Bob Berman.

NASA has also set up an Asteroid Watch page, where they will be releasing images.

Or you can just stay on this page. Below, watch the live stream of the QE2, courtesy of NASA.

RELATED:

Asteroid 1998 QE2: How To Watch The Huge Asteroid Pass Earth This Friday [UPDATED]

Moon Explosion: How Massive Was The Meteorite That Recently Collided With The Lunar Surface? [VIDEO]

Nuking Asteroids: Why One Scientist Wants To Blow Up Space Rocks [VIDEO]

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