An asteroid measuring more than 800 feet will cross Earth on Tuesday night.
NASA has issued a "close approach" alert to the mysterious space object – and says it will be accompanied by a second Earth asteroid on the same day.
The good news is that asteroids regularly pass close to Earth, so there is no need for panic.
In fact, NASA has designated 10 "objects close to Earth" as making an "approach" only during the month of November.
"As they orbit the Sun, objects close to Earth may occasionally approach Earth," the US space agency said.
It is also important to remember that a "close approach" may not be as close as you think.
The main asteroid on Tuesday is called 2013 CW32, and was (as the name suggests) first seen in 2013.
It measures a whopping 820 feet in diameter, and is traveling at a very nippy 36,775mph.
He must pass through the Earth on January 29, at approximately 4:54 pm, with one or two minutes.
And that should take us to a reasonably safe distance of 3,199,690 miles – about 14 times the distance between Earth and Moon.
In fact, there is a second asteroid on Earth as well, but it is much smaller.
The 2019 AN11 asteroid measures a less terrifying 170 feet, and is traveling at a much slower (albeit almost slow) speed of 18,000 mph. The 2019 in his name means he was seen for the first time this year.
It will bypass the Earth at a distance of 2,988,529 miles at 5:50 am in the UK.
What is the difference between an asteroid, meteor, and comet?
Here's what you need to know, according to NASA …
- Asteroid: Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter), but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can affect the Earth). The asteroid is a small rock body that orbits the sun.
- Meter: When two asteroids collide, the small pieces that come apart are called meteoroids.
- Meteor: If a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it begins to vaporize and then becomes a meteor. On Earth, it will look like a ray of light in the sky, because the rock is burning
- Meteorite: If a meteorite does not vaporize completely and survive the journey through Earth's atmosphere, it can land on Earth. At that point, it becomes a meteorite
- Comet: Like asteroids, a comet orbits the sun. However, rather than being made primarily of rock, a comet contains a lot of ice and gas, which can result in astonishing tails forming behind them (thanks to the ice and vaporizing dust)
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to see asteroids with a telescope because they are usually very small and weak – with varying levels of reflexivity.
The best method for amateurs is astrophotography, which involves taking multiple photos of the night sky.
It is then possible to compare the images and then look for small objects that have changed position.
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