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Watch Live: Asteroid Named 'The Beast' Flies by Earth Today (VIDEO)

Jun 05, 2014 04:10 PM EDT
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asteroid HQ124
A potentially dangerous asteroid nicknamed "The Beast" - first discovered April 23- is flying by Earth on Thursday and its trek will be broadcast live via the Slooh Space Camera starting at 11:30 a.m. PDT/2:30 p.m. EDT.
(Photo : NASA/JPL)

A potentially dangerous asteroid nicknamed "The Beast" - first discovered April 23- is flying by Earth on Thursday and its trek will be broadcast live via the Slooh Space Camera starting at 11:30 a.m. PDT/2:30 p.m. EDT.

Measuring about 1,067 feet (325 meters) wide, the celestial object formally known as HQ124 is notable for its proximity and its immense size.

It will be three lunar distances away from Earth at its closest approach on Thursday. And though The Beast is big enough to do some serious damage were it to impact Earth, it won't come close enough to be dangerous.

"HQ124 is at least 10 times bigger, and possibly 20 times, than the asteroid that injured a thousand people last year in Chelyabinsk, Siberia," Bob Berman, an astronomer with Internet astronomy outreach venture Slooh, said in a statement, according to National Geographic.

"If it were to impact us, the energy released would be measured not in kilotons like the atomic bombs that ended World War II, but in H-bomb type megatons."

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer first noticed HQ124 back in April, traveling at a speed of 31,000 mph (50,400 kilometers per hour). Astronomers originally thought it was about three times bigger based on its brightness, but downgraded its size as it came closer to Earth. The last time a Beast-sized asteroid passed Earth at such a close distance was in 2005 when asteroid 2005 YU55 flew by within 0.85 lunar distances.

According to Wired.com, Slooh and NASA recently teamed up asking citizens to help find, monitor and characterize near-Earth objects using Slooh's telescopes. While astronomers believe we have spotted 90 percent of the asteroids 1,000 feet wide or bigger (meaning they are potentially hazardous), others have slipped through the cracks. They have detected about only 30 percent of the objects around 460 feet wide and just 1 percent of objects the size of The Beast.

Slooh will broadcast the event live from Australia, featuring time-lapse imagery from its robotic observatory in Chile.

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