It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a skyscraper … or at least, it’s something as big as those things.
Several large asteroids are set to pass by Earth this week, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. There is no current danger of the asteroids hitting Earth, but one colossal asteroid has been labeled “potentially hazardous.”
That asteroid, named 1994 XD, measures approximately 1,500 feet, making it comparable in size to a large bridge, or the U.S. Capitol building. It’s set to reach its nearest distance to Earth after dark on June 12, with multiple websites livestreaming the celestial event.
When it’s closest, 1994 XD will still be around 1.9 million miles away. For comparison, the moon is 238,855 miles away.
The asteroid got its “potentially hazardous” reputation because of its size and the fact that its orbit passed the minimum distance criteria between Earth.
And 1994 XD is not the only asteroid approaching our home planet. On Monday alone, two others the size of airplanes are set to pass Earth, one 410,000 miles away and the other 972,000 miles away. Then on Tuesday, one the size of a bus and another the size of a skyscraper will pass the planet.
Asteroids are rocky fragments left over from the early formation of the planets that float around the solar system.
Scientists are constantly monitoring the 1,296,963 known asteroids to make sure none are knocked out of orbiting the sun, potentially sending them to intersect with Earth’s path. But it’s common for asteroids to safely pass Earth in closer proximity, though the small percentage of “potentially hazardous” asteroids like 1994 XD prompt a closer look.
In its orbit, 1994 XD passes by Earth around once every 3.6 years. It was first spotted in December 1994 and last officially observed in 2017. Its next close approach is predicted to come in 2041, according to space.reference.org.
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