Huge asteroid to zip 'near' Earth on Wednesday
It's a near-miss in space terms.
A 2,000-foot-long asteroid, almost twice the size of the Rose Bowl, will zip safely past Earth on Wednesday at a distance of about 1.1 million miles, about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon.
Although there is no possibility the asteroid, with the ungainly name of 2014 JO25, could collide with our planet, it will be a very close approach for an asteroid of this size, NASA said.
"Close is kind of a relative term," AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Lada said. "The closest it's going to be to the Earth is more than a million miles away."
It's the closest this asteroid has come to Earth for at least the past 400 years and will be its closest approach for at least the next 500 years.
NASA said the approach is the closest by any known asteroid of this size since the 3.1-mile-wide asteroid Toutatis approached within about four lunar distances in September 2004. Not until 2027 will we have another shot at seeing a big rock tumble so close by, Sky and Telescope said.
The asteroid is so massive that astronomy website Slooh.com nicknamed it after popular movie star Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock.
The flyby should also be visible with amateur telescopes, beginning in the early morning hours on Wednesday and then again that night, according to EarthSky.org. Wednesday morning, it can be spotted in the northern sky near the constellation of Draco.
Wednesday night, asteroid 2014 JO25 will pass though the constellations Canes Venatici and Coma Berenices in the eastern sky.
The asteroid was discovered in May 2014 by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz.