Huge asteroid will fly by Earth on Monday
At its closest point, as it flies by at about 35,000 mph, the space rock will be about 745,000 miles from Earth, about three times as far away as the moon.
Officially named 2004 BL86, it will be the biggest asteroid to fly by our planet for the next 12 years. This asteroid won`t pay its next visit for 200 years, NASA said.
The asteroid can be seen by amateur astronomers with small telescopes and strong binoculars. Its maximum brightness will probably be from 11:07 to 11:52 p.m. ET Monday, according to The Watchers, an astronomy site.
"While it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it`s a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more," Don Yeomans of NASA`s Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a NASA news release.
Asteroids fly by us all the time: There are 21 that will spin by the Earth in the next week alone, according to NASA. It`s the size of this one — about 1,800 feet long — that`s impressive. This asteroid was discovered in 2004, hence its name.
Speaking of asteroids, a study out this week reported that the massive rock that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago did not cause a global firestorm, as had been thought.
As reported in the Journal of the Geological Society, a team of U.K. researchers found that the intense but short-lived heat near the asteroid impact site in Mexico could not have ignited live plants, challenging the idea that the impact led to global firestorms.
Though there are more than 500 asteroids out there big enough and close enough to pose a threat to Earth, none of them is likely to hit anytime soon.