Story at a glance
- NASA says asteroid 7842 will pass by Earth Tuesday afternoon.
- Astronomers have been tracking the asteroid since it was first discovered in 1994.
- Asteroid 7842 will pass within 1.2 million miles of Earth, considered close by cosmic standards but does not pose a threat to the planet.
An asteroid that is more than 3,000 feet wide will fly by Earth on Tuesday.
The NASA Center for Near Earth Objects estimates asteroid 7482 will pass within 1.2 million miles of Earth at 47,344 miles per hour at 4:51 p.m. EST. While that is considered close by cosmic standards, the large asteroid still poses no serious threat to Earth.
Tuesday will be asteroid 7482’s closest encounter with Earth for at least the next 200 years for which astronomers have calculated its orbit. Astronomers have been tracking it for decades after it was first discovered in 1994 by Robert McNaught.
The massive asteroid is estimated to measure some 3,451 feet wide, about twice the height of the Empire State building.
The speed of the asteroid will also enable amateur astronomers to be able to spot it, according to EarthSky. It will look like a point of light, similar to a star, passing in front of background stars.
NASA offers a way for everyone to get a glimpse of asteroid 7842, through Eyes on Asteroids, a program where people can track live the asteroid’s path.
Last month, a separate asteroid passed by Earth, asteroid 4660, and came about 2.4 million miles from Earth. NASA also launched a Double Asteroid Redirection Tool in November last year to intentionally slam into an asteroid more than 6 million miles away at speeds upwards of 15,000 miles per hour.
The goal is to determine whether intentionally crashing an object into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course if an asteroid’s path is ever set towards Earth.
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