On April 19th, just 8 days from now, NASA says the Earth will be visited by one huge asteroid, but according to them there is no need to panic. Space experts at NASA say it won’t collide with our planet, but it will get extremely close for an asteroid of that size.
The rock, named 2014 JO25, is a giant compared to most of this years visitors, it measures approximately 2,000 feet across, or about ½ a mile but it is supposed to pass by Earth at a safe distance of 1.1 million miles, or nearly five times the distance between the Earth and the moon. That compares to only 9,900 miles that another asteroid missed us by just last week. So far this year the Earth has been in the cross-hairs of over 100 such space rocks, but fortunately, someone can’t aim very well.
“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 asteroid, which approached within about four lunar distances in September 2004,” NASA officials said in a statement. [Photos: Asteroids in Deep Space]. NASA first learned of 2014 JO25 three years ago, when astronomers monitoring the Catalina Sky Survey at the University of Arizona spotted it with their telescopes. Sponsored by NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Observation Program, the survey searches for potentially Earth-threatening asteroids in the solar system.
NASA admits they don’t know much about the makeup of the giant rock, other than the agency’s NEOWISE (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) mission indicates that the asteroid is about twice as reflective as the moon. Skywatchers will be able to see it with a small telescope. After it first becomes visible in the night sky, it will slowly fade into the distance, disappearing after one or two nights.
NASA said in a statement: “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. Radar observations are planned at NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the resulting radar images could reveal surface details as small as a few meters.“