Big Asteroid Flies By Earth Tonight: How to Watch Live

Asteroid 2003 DZ15 Orbit Diagram
Orbit Diagram for near-Earth asteroid 2003 DZ15, which makes a close pass by Earth on July 29, 2013. (Image credit: Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project (

An asteroid as large as five football fields will zoom by Earth tonight, and you can watch the close approach live from the comfort of your home.

The near-Earth asteroid 2003 DZ15 will come within 2.2 million miles (3.5 million kilometers) of our planet  — about nine times farther than the distance between Earth and the moon — tonight (July 29) at 8:37 p.m. EDT (0037 GMT on July 30). There is no chance that 2003 DZ15 will strike Earth on this pass, scientists say.

The online Virtual Telescope Project will stream live footage of 2003 DZ15 beginning at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT) tonight. The webcast will use views from a powerful telescope in Ceccano, Italy, along with live commentary by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, who runs the Virtual Telescope Project. You can watch the feed of 2003 DZ15's flyby here on, or follow it at the Virtual Telescope Project's site here:

This image of near-Earth asteroid 2003 DZ15 was captured by the Virtual Telescope Project's PlaneWave instrument on July 27, 2013. The asteroid appears as a small white dot in the middle of the photo; the lines are star trails. (Image credit: Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project (

The 500-foot-wide (152 meters) asteroid will be too faint for most skywatchers to observe from their backyards, but folks can get a good look on their computer screens. Despite its large size, 2003 DZ15 is still far enough from Earth that it appears as a pinprick of light against a star field as seen by the Virtual Telescope Project instrument.

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Mike Wall Senior Writer
Michael was a science writer for the Idaho National Laboratory and has been an intern at, The Salinas Californian newspaper, and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. He has also worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.