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NASA Spacecraft to Be Visible Tonight En Route to Encounter With Asteroid

January 22, 1998

NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft will become the first interplanetary craft that can be seen without the aid of a telescope when it cruises by the Earth tonight on its way to intercept the asteroid Eros later this year. Sunlight glinting from the craft's solar panels should be visible in Southern California about 10:40 p.m. if clouds do not obscure the view.

To find the spacecraft, look for the brightest star above the northwest horizon, Capella, which will be about two-thirds of the way between the horizon and straight overhead. With your hand at arm's length, stretch out your fingers, putting the end of your little finger at the top of Capella. The tip of your thumb will mark the position of the spacecraft. Look at http://sd-www.jhuapl.edu/NEAR/ for more information.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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