Named Asteroid 3122 Florence after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, this will be the largest heavenly body to sail near Earth since the 1990s, when NASA first started tracking such phenomena.
"While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on Sept. 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller," NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) Manager Paul Chodas said earlier this month from Pasadena, California.
Estimated to be about 2.7 miles in diameter, an object the size of Florence would have a global impact if it struck the Earth, though, of course, this isn’t expected. Another object isn’t expected to make a similarly close approach until the year 2500.
Scientists will be able to use the Arecibo and Goldstone antennae from the Earth’s surface to study the asteroid as it makes its close pass, and with its magnitude and movements through the Delphinus, Aquarius, Capricorn and Pisces Austrinus constellations, amateur astronomers may be able to see Florence as well.
Sky and Telescope Senior Editor Kelly Beatty said, "Despite some interference from moonlight, 3122 Florence should be fairly easy to spot in even modest backyard telescopes," according to CNet.
Astronomer Schelte Bus first discovered 3122 Florence in 1981 from Australia’s Sliding Spring Observatory. The asteroid’s distance from the sun ranges from 1.0 to 2.5 astronomical units and it has an orbital period of 2.4 years.