Stadium-sized asteroid will be 'relatively close' to Earth this week

A massive asteroid is set to hurtle past Earth this week.

NASA has been keeping tabs on five giant asteroids that are relatively close to the planet. One in particular is the size of a 1,100-foot stadium.

But not to worry — by “close,” NASA means approximately 5.1 million kilometres away. For reference, the distance between the moon and Earth is 385,000 kilometres.

NASA has an Asteroid Watch Widget that tracks the five asteroid or comets closest to Earth.

NASA has an Asteroid Watch Widget that tracks the five asteroid or comets closest to Earth.

NASA

Along with this mother of an asteroid are four others — three the size of an airplane and one the size of a house. On Wednesday, a 97-foot asteroid will be about 2.9 million kilometres away.

Space fanatics can keep track of approaching asteroids using the Asteroid Watch Widget, which tracks asteroids and comets that make approaches to Earth.

An object larger than about 150 metres that can approach Earth within 4.6 million miles is considered potentially hazardous, NASA says.

These visitors aren’t uncommon, either.

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Stargazers, astronomers and Armageddon fans had their eyes glued to a live-streamed feed of the solar system on April 29, as a “potentially hazardous asteroid” — the size of four CN Towers — hurtled past Earth.

The massive chunk of space rock, known as 1998 OR2, approached our planet early that day in a relatively close fly-by that posed no threat to life on our planet.

Experts said it would be visible to amateur astronomers through a telescope, but it was never anticipated to come any closer than about 6.3 million kilometres. That’s roughly 16 times the distance between our planet and the moon.

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A couple months before that, sky-watchers discovered a suspected asteroid-turned-moon in orbit around the Earth.

The object, dubbed 2020 CD3, was discovered in mid-February by researchers at the Catalina Sky Survey in Tucson, Az.

“Earth has a new temporarily captured object/possible mini-moon,” tweeted Kacper Wierzchos, one of the astronomers who spotted the asteroid on Feb. 15.

He also shared a GIF of the little space visitor whipping across the night sky.

The object appears to have been doing laps around the Earth for about three years, according Wierzchos’ analysis of its flight path.

He says it’s between 1.9 and 3.5 metres wide, which would make it roughly the size of a car.

— With files from Global News reporter Josh K. Elliott.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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