(ORDO NEWS) — An exciting spectacle awaits observers tonight as a bus-sized asteroid makes a close but safe flyby of Earth.
Asteroid 2022 GN1 will pass at a distance of 127,000 km from Earth tonight, roughly one third of the distance between the Earth and the Moon, according to NASA’s Center for the Study of Near-Earth Objects (CNEOS).
Although this space rock is classified as a “potentially hazardous asteroid” by CNEOS due to its close approach to Earth, the asteroid will not collide with our planet.
While it may be difficult to spot it on your own, weather permitting, you can watch the event live streamed by the Virtual Telescope Project.
Scientists estimate that the size of 2022 GN1 is between 7.7 and 16 meters across, which is roughly the size of a bus. According to Newseek, the next asteroid flyby will occur at 03:02 GMT at a speed of about 55,500 km/h.
Astronomers only discovered asteroid 2022 GN1 on Friday (April 1) using data collected by the PanSTARRS telescope at Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii, which regularly detects previously unknown near-Earth objects.
Although the vast majority of space rocks – especially large ones – do not collide with Earth, our planet is often bombarded by smaller space objects. For example, on March 30, a small meteor exploded over Indiana, causing a boom that surprised and puzzled residents, but caused no damage.
Of course, an asteroid impact is never out of the question, which is why NASA operates the Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
The agency not only monitors the space around us, but also develops asteroid defense technologies that can protect us from a possible collision. In September, NASA will deliberately crash a DART spacecraft into the asteroid Dimorphos to try to change its orbit.
If you miss a flyby of 2022 GN1 tonight, CNEOS says it will return for another flyby in August 2056. And if you don’t want to wait that long to see another close encounter, then the next opportunity is just around the corner – asteroid 2022 GQ1 will fly by on Thursday – April 7th in the morning.
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