Following Florence

Listen 00:06:01
an asteroid

Asteroid Florence will pass Earth on Saturday. At 2.4 miles in diameter, it’s the largest since researchers began keeping close tabs on near-earth asteroids. The asteroid will pass us by at 18 times the distance from Earth to the moon – not close at all!
The last time Florence passed was in 1890, and it won’t again until 2500.
Cassini starts its last three orbits this week. It’s in its final phase of exploring Saturn before it plunges into the planet on Sept. 15th ending its 13 years at Saturn. September 2nd will be its second to last orbit – #292, its closest orbit. Several orbit-height-adjustment maneuvers are planned depending on the density of Saturn’s upper atmosphere during the final orbits. The spacecraft was only supposed to last 4 years but its mission was extended three times
Jupiter hangs very low in the west just after sunset with Saturn still well up in the south. Venus dominates the pre-dawn sky – Mercury and Mars are there but too close to the sun to be visible. Cool astro targets for binoculars in late summer – Cluster in Hercules, galaxy in Andromeda.

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