Solar eclipse grabs Canadians' attention, but there's also a large asteroid coming near Earth

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      My colleague Martin Dunphy recently wrote about a rare total solar eclipse, which will be visible on Monday (August 21).

      And it's no wonder this is capturing so much media attention—the next one won't be visible from Vancouver for another 18 years.

      But there's another significant astronomical event on the horizon.

      NASA says a large asteroid named Florence will pass within 18 Earth-Moon distances from our planet on September 1.

      "Florence is among the largest near-Earth asteroids that are several miles in size; measurements from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and NEOWISE mission indicate it’s about 2.7 miles (4.4 kilometers) in size," NASA states on its website.

      In fact, it's the largest asteroid to come this close to Earth since NASA started doing this type of tracking.

      It was discovered in 1981 and is named after nursing hero Florence Nightingale.

      "The 2017 encounter is the closest by this asteroid since 1890 and the closest it will ever be until after 2500," NASA says. "Florence will brighten to ninth magnitude in late August and early September, when it will be visible in small telescopes for several nights as it moves through the constellations Piscis Austrinus, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Delphinus." 

      An asteroid that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico 66 million years ago is believed to be responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs.

      According to a BBC report, its energy upon hitting the Earth's crust was the equivalent of 10 billion Hiroshima-size atom bombs.