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A massive mile-wide asteroid is flying past Earth this week

This artist’s impression shows the first interstellar asteroid: `Oumuamua. (NASA/Released)

A huge mile-wide asteroid — much larger than many of the space rocks that regularly fly past Earth — will be zooming by us on Friday.

Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) is considered by NASA as a “potentially hazardous asteroid,” but it will not be hitting our planet as the rock makes a closer-than-normal trip past Earth.

“Despite that characterization, there’s nothing to worry about,” said Brian Lada, an AccuWeather meteorologist who focuses on space and astronomy. “It’s close in a cosmic sense, but a safe distance away.”

The asteroid was discovered in 1989, and this week, it will be the closest it has been to Earth since that discovery. The rock will come within 2.5 million miles of our planet — or about 10 times farther away than the moon.

Asteroid 7335 is 1.1 miles across, which is four times larger than the Empire State Building, Lada said. He also compared the massive asteroid’s size as being as tall as 350 giraffes.

Even though the asteroid is so large, people will “need a telescope if you want to see it,” Lada said. It will be closest to Earth during the first half of Friday night, but people should still be able to see the asteroid through the weekend.

“Look toward the southern sky near the constellation Hydra,” Lada said. “It will look like a tiny dot in the sky.

“If you look at it during multiple nights, you’ll notice it is slowly moving across the sky,” he added. “The next night, it won’t be next to the same exact star.”

There are more than 2,000 asteroids that NASA has categorized as “potentially hazardous.” That means the space rock is 460-plus feet across and it will come within 4.6 million miles of Earth.

“There are none that pose an immediate threat to Earth,” Lada said. “If there’s a tweak in an asteroid’s orbit and it shifts a little closer, then we’d have to worry a bit and we’d have to act on it.”

That means NASA would have to launch an asteroid redirect mission and adjust the rock’s orbit.

Lada said, “It wouldn’t be like in the movie Armageddon where they go up and blow it up with a nuclear bomb.”


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