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Gigantic 400-Year-Old Asteroid to Fly Past the Earth on April 19

Apr 13, 2017 02:13 PM EDT
NASA Holds News Conference On Near-Earth Asteroid Findings
A gigantic asteroid will fly past the Earth. Although it will be very close, it won't collide with the planet.
(Photo : Alex Wong/Getty Images)

An asteroid will safely pass by Earth on April 19. The gigantic 400-year-old space rock has been detected and will cause no harm to the planet.

NASA said that the asteroid is expected to make a close approach to Earth and would get really close to the planet, but it is very unlikely to make a collision.

The gigantic asteroid is called 2014 JO25 and is about 2,000 feet (650 meters) across. It's as tall as the world's second tallest building. Experts say that it'll approach at a safe distance of 1.1. million miles (1.8 million kilometers).

"Small asteroids pass within this distance of Earth several times each week, but this upcoming close approach is the closest by any known asteroid of this size, or larger, since asteroid Toutatis, a 3.1-mile (five-kilometer) asteroid, which approached within about four lunar distances in September 2004," NASA officials said in a statement.

NASA scientists discovered the space rock while monitoring the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona. The said project is supported by NASA's Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observations in order to detect and identify asteroids that pose risks to Earth.

Because of the brightness of the asteroid, which is twice brighter than the moon according to NASA's NEOWISE (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer), anyone with a small telescope will be able to see it.

"The April 19 encounter provides an outstanding opportunity to study this asteroid, and astronomers plan to observe it with telescopes around the world to learn as much about it as possible," NASA said in a statement. "The encounter on April 19 is the closest this asteroid has come to Earth for at least the last 400 years and will be its closest approach for at least the next 500 years."

It'll be the closest approach to Earth by a massive asteroid since 2004. This approach will be the asteroid's closest orbit to Earth in 400 years and it won't happen again until at least another 500 years.

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