(WJW) – An asteroid that’s more than twice the height of the Empire State Building is set to pass Earth TODAY.
The asteroid, which NASA calls (7842) 1994 PC1, was actually first discovered in 1994. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it’s about 3,280 feet in diameter and is moving at 43,754 miles per hour.
While it will be close to Earth, it will safely pass even though NASA is categorizing the asteroid as “potentially hazardous.”
Potentially hazardous asteroids are defined as being more than about 460 feet in size with orbits that bring them as close as within 4.6 million miles of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, according to NASA.
According to earthsky.org, this asteroid will pass about 1.2 million miles away from Earth. That means skywatchers may be able to see it with a small telescope. The closest approach will be 4:51 p.m. on Jan. 18.
The asteroid won’t be this close to Earth again for at least 200 years.
Asteroids are small, rocky objects leftover from the solar system’s formation some 4.5 billion years ago. They orbit the sun and mostly live in the asteroid belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are made of different kinds of rocks, and no two are alike.
Back in July, an asteroid called “2008Go20,” hurtled past Earth at 18,000 miles per hour. That asteroid was about the size of a stadium or three times the size of the Taj Mahal.
In March, the asteroid Apophis, roughly the size of three football fields, passed by Earth approximately 10.4 million miles away — nearly 44 times as far away as the moon.