TOOWOOMBA astronomers and amateur stargazers are in for a treat this Friday evening, as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity swings across the sky.
NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will "sling-shot" its way across the sky above Toowoomba, starting from 11pm Friday, as it uses the Earth's gravity to give it an orbital boost on its way to rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2018.
The Earth fly-by will give astronomers and those with high-end cameras a chance to view the rare encounter.
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Jake Clark, an astronomy PhD student based at the University of Southern Queensland's Toowoomba campus said the OSIRIS-REx will become visible to cameras in the eastern part of Toowoomba's sky from 11pm Friday.
"It'll then move across the night sky moving from East to West before setting SW nearer to 3am Saturday morning," Mr Clark said.
For those not in Toowoomba, coordinates of where the OSIRIS-REx will appear can be found here.
OSIRIS-REx is on an extraordinary journey to bring back to Earth a sample from the surface of the carbonaceous asteroid Bennu that could potentially record the early history of the solar system and molecular precursors to the origin of life.
The spacecraft is NASA's first ever asteroid sampling probe.
Anyone with a good enough camera can monitor OSIRIS-REx and send their results/photos to NASA, becoming a scientist in their own right, in their own backyard.
Just head to this link, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "How do I share my images?"