Big space rock to streak past Earth on Wednesday

Geronimo Vena
Aprile 19, 2017

NASA said the approach is the closest by any known asteroid of this size since the 3.1-mile-wide asteroid Toutatis approached within about four lunar distances in September 2004.

"The Rock", also known by its formal name Asteroid 2014 JO25, will make its closest approach to Earth on April 19 at 7 p.m. EDT (4 p.m. PDT), according to astronomers at Slooh.

Scientists aren't entirely sure what the chemical properties of the asteroid are, but are eager to catch a glimpse on April 19.

A potentially hazardous asteroid, which is as big as the Rock of Gibraltar, will pass by Earth in an uncomfortably close distance on 19 of April. The encounter is the closest for this asteroid for at least the last 400 years.

In May 2014, 2014 JO25 was spotted by astronomers at Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona.

Smaller asteroids whizz by Earth several times a week.

"While not causing an extinction level event, an impact from an asteroid the size of "The Rock" would have a calamitous effect at the local and even regional level".

The asteroid will be passing the Earth after looping around the Sun, then it will continue towards Jupiter before heading towards the centre of the Solar System.

Besides its size and trajectory, scientists also know that its surface is twice as reflective as that of the Moon. It is expected to brighten to around magnitude 11, which means it might be visible with small amateur telescopes for a night or two before travels too far away, fading into the night sky.

Discovered just three years ago by astronomers with NASA's NEO (Near Earth Object) Observations Program, the rock is still pretty new to science, and we've got a lot more to learn.

On April 19, us Earthlings will have an opportunity to watch a massive asteroid hurtle past the planet. It was discovered in 2011 using the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii and has a nucleus of about 1 kilometer.

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