A ‘potentially dangerous’ asteroid bigger than the Empire State Building will pass Earth

Asteroid rock against a starry green background (Getty)

(WJW) – An asteroid that is more than twice the height of the Empire State Building is expected to pass Earth next week.

The asteroid, which Nasa calls (7842) 1994 PC1, was first discovered in 1994. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it measures about 3,280 feet in diameter and travels at 43,754 miles per hour.

As long as it is close to Earth, it will pass safely even if Nasa classifies the asteroid as “potentially dangerous”.

Potentially hazardous asteroids are defined as being larger than about 460 feet in size with orbits that bring them within 4.6 million miles of Earth’s orbit around the sun, according to NASA.

According to Earthsky.org, this asteroid will pass about 1.2 million kilometers from Earth. That means skywatchers may be able to see it with a small telescope. The closest approach will be at 4:51 p.m. on January 18.

The asteroid won’t be as close to Earth for at least 200 years.

Asteroids are small rocky objects from the formation of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago. They orbit the sun and live mainly in the asteroid belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids are made up of different types of rock, and no two are alike.

In July, an asteroid called “2008Go20” passed Earth at 18,000 miles per hour. This 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 close to Earth at about 10.4 million kilometers, nearly 44 times farther than the moon.

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