Kilometre-Wide Asteroid To Blast Past Earth Tomorrow
An asteroid bigger than any building on Earth is set to hurtle past our planet after it was first discovered nearly 30 years ago.
The recently-released Netflix film Don’t Look Up has warned us of what can happen to humanity when it chooses to ignore giant rocks hurtling towards us from space, but luckily even Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence would agree that the approaching asteroid isn’t one we have to worry about.
Asteroid 1994 PC1, as it is known, isn’t a ‘planet destroyer’ with a 100% chance of impact – or 70%, if you’re Meryl Streep – rather, it is set to pass by Earth at more than five times the moon’s distance from the planet tomorrow, January 18.
The huge space object measures more than a kilometre wide, making it bigger than the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s 830-metre-tall Burj Khalifa.
In spite of its size, NASA assured that the asteroid is nothing to worry about in a post on Twitter, explaining that it is ‘very well known and has been studied for decades by our [Planetary Defense] experts’.
The space agency added, ‘Rest assured, 1994 PC1 will safely fly past our planet 1.2 million miles away next Tues., Jan. 18.’
Asteroid 1994 PC1 was discovered by Robert McNaught on August 9, 1994 at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Astronomers were then able to spot the rock on earlier images from previous observations dating back to September 1974.
Using the data gathered from the observations, astronomers were able to establish the orbit of the asteroid.
According to EarthSky, the asteroid’s flyby tomorrow will be the closest it gets for at least the next 200 years for which astronomers have calculated its orbit. It is set to travel past us at a speedy 43,754 miles per hour relative to Earth, meaning space enthusiasts may be able to spot it on telescopes of about six inches or wider in diameter.
Those looking to catch a glimpse of the asteroid could use the help of skywatching software such as Stellarium, or a website such as In The Sky, though if you don’t have a telescope to hand then you could also witness the event through a watch party held by the Virtual Telescope Project, which is based in Rome.
Though asteroid 1994 PC1 is a big asteroid to come whipping by, the event is not uncommon, and in fact asteroids fly by Earth almost every day.
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