Go find a telescope!
A massive mile-wide asteroid — much larger than many space rocks that regularly fly past Earth — will zoom by us later this week.
Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) is considered a “potentially dangerous asteroid” by NASA, but it will not hit our planet because the rock travels more normally past Earth.
“Despite that characterization, there is nothing to worry about,” said Brian Lada, an AccuWeather meteorologist who focuses on space and astronomy. “It’s close in a cosmic sense, but a safe distance away.”
This asteroid was discovered in 1989, and this week, it will be the closest to Earth since that discovery. The rock would come within 2.5 million miles of our planet – or about 10 times as far from the Moon.
Asteroid 7335 is 1.1 miles across, which is four times larger than the Empire State Building, Lada said. He compared the size of the massive asteroid to that of 350 giraffes.
Even though the asteroid is so big, people “are going to need binoculars if you want to see it,” Lada said. It will be closest to Earth during the first half of Friday night, but people should still be able to see the asteroid during the weekend.
“Look to the southern sky near the constellation Hydra,” said Lada. “It will look like a small dot in the sky.
“If you watch it over the course of several nights, you’ll see it’s slowly moving across the sky,” he said. “The next night, it won’t be next to the same exact star.”
There are over 2,000 asteroids that NASA has classified as “potentially hazardous”. This means that the space rock is more than 460 feet across and will come within 4.6 million miles of Earth.
“There is none that poses an immediate threat to Earth,” Lada said. “If there’s a bend in the orbit of an asteroid and it comes a little closer, we have to worry a little bit and we have to act on that.”
This means that NASA will have to launch an asteroid redirect mission and adjust the orbit of the rock.
“It’s not going to be like the movie Armageddon where they go up and blow it up with an atomic bomb,” Lada said.