Large Asteroid to Hurtle Past Earth on April 19

It looks likes there’s another object that’s going to come close to earth towards the direction of the sun. According to astronomers, a very massive asteroid as big as the Rock of Gibraltar will streak past Earth on April 19 at a safe but uncomfortably close distance.

A statement from NASA said that despite the uncomfortably close distance, experts said there was no chance of a collision, “Although there is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid this size.”

Given the name 2014-JO25, this thing is gigantic boulder and is roughly 650 meters (2,000 feet) across, the asteroid will come within 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) of Earth, less than five times the distance to the Moon.

The asteroid will pass closest to our planet after a loop around the Sun. 2014-J25 will then continue on and then travel past Jupiter before heading back toward the center of our Solar System.

Smaller asteroids whizz by Earth several times a week. However, the last time one at least this size came as close was in 2004, when Toutatis — five kilometers (3.1 miles) across — passed within four lunar distances.

The next close encounter with a big rock will not happen before 2027, when the 800-meter (half-mile) wide asteroid 199-AN10 will fly by at just one lunar distance, about 380,000 km (236,000 miles). The last time 2014-JO25 was in our immediate neighborhood was 400 years ago, and its next brush with Earth won’t happen until sometime after 2600.

The flyby has been billed by the US space agency as an “outstanding opportunity” for astronomers and amateur stargazers, NASA said.

The comet has brightened recently and should be visible in the dawn sky with binoculars or a small telescope. Experts said the asteroid should be visible with a small optical telescope for one or two nights before it moves out of range.

“Astronomers plan to observe it with telescopes around the world to learn as much about it as possible,” the US space agency said.

Besides its size and trajectory, scientists also know that its surface is twice as reflective as that of the Moon.

Astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona discovered 2014-J25 in May 2014.

Also on April 19, a comet known as PanSTARRS will make its closest approach to Earth at a “very safe” distance of 175 million km (109 million miles), according to NASA.

Asteroids are composed of rocky and metallic material, whereas comets — generally smaller — are more typically made of ice, dust, and rocky stuff.

Both were formed early in the history of the Solar System some 4.5 billion years ago.

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