Look Out for a Giant Asteroid Passing Very Close to Earth in Tonight's Sky
A giant, peanut-shaped asteroid will come into “potentially hazardous” close contact with Earth on Wednesday.
Even though scientists have determined that there is a zero percent chance of Asteroid 2014 JO25 coming in contact with Earth this week, the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center has classified the asteroid as “potentially hazardous” for its sheer size and how close it could pass to Earth over the coming centuries.
Scientists have placed the asteroid measurements anywhere from 2,000 to 4,270 feet across. At 8:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, the asteroid came in close contact with Earth — although it was still about 1.1 million miles away (over four times the distances between our planet and the moon).
It is the closest an object this large has come to the Earth since the giant asteroid 4179 Toutatis flew by in 2004.
The asteroid will still be visible in the night sky over the next few days until it fades from view. However, the asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye. Astronomers will need telescopes to view the trail left behind as it crosses the constellation Draco.
This asteroid’s approach is the closest in at least 400 years — and it’s not predicted to come this close again until at least the year 2500.
Sky-watchers who miss Wednesday’s close approach will have to wait another 10 years for anything similar. The next close approach of a giant asteroid will happen in 2027 when asteroid 1999 AN10 (which is about a half-mile wide) will pass by the Earth at about the same distance as the moon.