'Mystery object' 2010 AL30 to pass within hairs breadth of Earth

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Pastor Dale Morgan

Jan 13, 2010, 2:52:25 AM1/13/10
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*Signs In The Sun, The Moon and The Stars

'Mystery object' 2010 AL30 to pass within hairs breadth of Earth*

* By staff writers
* From: news.com.au
* January 13, 2010 8:37AM

ASTRONOMERS will tonight get their best look at a "mystery object"
orbiting the Earth just a third of the distance out to the moon.

Named 2010 AL30, the object will pass within 130,000km of the Earth at
12:48 GMT (22:48 AEDT).

It is between 10-15m long, meaning there is no chance it could ever have
an impact on the planet, but it is certainly causing plenty of
discussion in scientific circles.

Experts are divided over whether the object is man-made or a small asteroid.

Italian scientists Ernesto Guido and Giovanni Sostero told Ria Novosti
it had an orbital period of almost exactly one year and might be a spent
rocket booster.

But Alan Harris at the US Space Science Institute said the object had a
"perfectly ordinary Earth-crossing orbit".

"Unlikely to be artificial, its orbit doesn't resemble any useful
spacecraft trajectory, and its encounter velocity with Earth is not
unusually low," he posted to The Minor Planet Mailing List.

Expert astronomers will be able to see it shining with a brightness of a
14th-magnitude star similar to that of Pluto.

It will appear moving through the constellations of Orion, Taurus and
Pisces, according to NASA's Solar System Dynamics website.

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