NASA/JPL-Caltech

Florence is coming.

Talia Avakian
August 30, 2017

The total solar eclipse might be over, but there’s another historic astronomical event taking to the skies this weekend: On September 1, a massive asteroid will fly past Earth.

The huge formation will be the largest asteroid to pass our planet in such close proximity since NASA first discovered and started tracking near-Earth asteroids, according to the agency

"While many known asteroids have passed by closer to Earth than Florence will on September 1, all of those were estimated to be smaller," Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies, said in a statement

The huge space rock was named after Florence Nightingale and is about 2.7 miles long, according to NASA

NASA/JPL-Caltech

While its distance from the Earth will be quite great at 4.4 million miles, you can still witness the rare event. 

Due to the asteroid's size, brightness, and a relatively slower speed, amateur astronomers will be able to catch Florence's movement through small telescopes, according to SkyandTelescope.com

The passing is expected to take place around 8 a.m. EDT on September 1, though you should be able to catch glimpses of it from now to September 5.

Related: When Is the Next Eclipse?

The passing will also offer scientists the ability to study asteroids more closely to gain further insight into the origin and composition of our solar system.

Officially called Asteroid 1981 ET3, the asteroid was first discovered at Australia’s Siding Spring Observatory in 1981, and will not make a passing this close again until the year 2500. 

If you’re interested in viewing the event for yourself, check out the charts provided by SkyandTelescope.com to know where and when you can expect the sight near you.

Those who are not able to see Florence from their backyards can watch a live stream from the Virtual Telescope Project starting on August 31, or via a webcast from Bareket Observatory in Israel on September 1.

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