By Melissa Gray, CNN
An asteroid the size of a city block will pass by Earth this weekend, but have no fear: There's no danger of it hitting our planet.
The 80-meter (262 feet) wide asteroid makes its closest approach to Earth on Saturday afternoon in the United States. It will be about 975,000 kilometers (604,500 miles) away, said Don Yeomans, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. That's about 2 1/2 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.
"It's a pretty good size, but it's not getting that close, at least by recent standards," Yeomans said.
The asteroid was only discovered Sunday because search telescopes can't find objects of that size until they get close.
Now that it's in view, Yeomans said, astronomers can accurately chart its orbit. And they assure us this space rock will only make a fly-by.
The asteroid is already observable in the night sky, even with sophisticated amateur telescopes, he said. But get a good look at it now, because after the close approach, the asteroid will appear in the daytime sky and be harder to see, Yeomans said.
Dubbed 2013ET (which is simply code for when it was discovered), the asteroid is the latest object from space to come near our planet.
A meteor exploded over southwestern Russia last month, injuring more than 1,500 people, Russian authorities said. In what astronomers have said was an unrelated coincidence, a larger asteroid passed by Earth the same day, about 17,100 miles away at its closest.
This Friday, a comet called Pan-STARRS will come into view over the Northern Hemisphere. A second comet, called ISON, may be visible in November. Scientists say neither comet poses a threat to Earth.
Imagine a future in which you always know the date of baseball's opening day. Or that your birthday is always on a Tuesday (sorry). Or that New Year's Eve is always on a Saturday.
As the people of the world prepare to hang their 2012 calendars, two professors at Johns Hopkins University are proposing one you can keep forever, as each date falls on the same day of the week as it did the year before.
Christmas might always be celebrated on a Sunday, for instance, and Memorial Day Monday could always be on May 28.
Astrophysicist Richard Conn Henry and applied economist Steve Hanke devised the new calendar after years of research and planning. They say their calendar would make it easy to plan annual activities, from holidays to academic schedules to financial calculations.
Light Years strives to tell the stories of science research, discovery, space and education. This is your go-to place on CNN.com for today’s stories, but also for a scientific perspective on the news and everyday wonders. Come indulge your curiosity in all things space and science related, brought to you by the entire CNN family.
July 19thAtlas V launch of US DOD MUOS-2 satellite, notable for large "551" config of Atlas
Aug 3rdJapanese HTV-4 flight to ISS on cargo supply mission
Aug 14thSpaceX launch of Canadian satellite in the first launch from their new Vandenberg facility, and first launch of upgraded Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle
Aug 28thDelta IV Heavy launch of NROL-65 spy satellite
SeptemberSoyuz TMA-08M flight returning Expedition 36 crew from ISS to Earth (Kazakhstan)
Sept 12thOrbital Sciences maiden flight of Cygnus cargo vehicle on Antares rocket to ISS
Sept 25thSoyuz TMA-10M flight launching Expedition 38 crew to ISS
Dec 9thSpaceX Dragon launch by Falcon 9 v1.1 on CRS-3 cargo supply mission to ISS
recurringfirst powered test flights of Scaled Composites' SpaceShipTwo commercial vehicle, to be used by Virgin Galactic for sub-orbital tourism