Monstrous asteroid heading towards Earth; NASA clocks speed at 36,800mph
A giant asteroid of up to 1.2 kilometers or 4,265 feet in diameter is heading towards earth, NASA asteroid tracker has revealed. The asteroid, named 138971 (2001 CB21), is expected to make its close pass to earth on March 4 at approximately 8am. It is estimated to travel at over 36,800 miles per hour. The asteroid is classified as "potentially hazardous" by NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) due to its proximity to Earth, which is less than 7.5 million km. However, it doesn't seem to be posing any danger to Earth.
While the asteroid has been dubbed potentially hazardous by NASA, it will actually be around over a million miles away, which is more than 12 times farther than the moon's distance from Earth and this has made astronomers announce that there's nothing to worry about. However, having said that, NASA will keep a close watch as asteroids can change course as they travel through space due to various reasons. At that speed, even a small change can alter the course of an asteroid enough to make it a major worry for Earth. Also, though it might appear farther for us but on cosmic scale, this kind of a distance is not considered as being big in any way.
As a point of reference to the true scale of this asteroid's size, experts at NASA are claiming that the object is four times the size of the tallest building in Western Europe, The Shard in London, which stands at 310 meters high.
While the asteroid won't directly affect earth, aspiring sky-watchers and amateur astronomers can see the object approach online. This rare event will be livestreamed online by astrophysicist and founder of The Virtual Telescope Project, Gianluca Masi from the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy. Those willing to watch this event can do so from 3pm on March 4, 2022.
Earlier, on January 30, an image of the 2001 CB21 was captured via an Earth-based telescope by Masi. At that time, it was more than 21.5 million miles away from Earth. As per the report, 2001 CB21 makes an orbit around the sun once every 384 days, which is almost similar to Earth's own orbital period. Its large size makes it bigger than around 97 percent of known asteroids, however, it's small compared to large asteroids, very roughly comparable in size to the Golden Gate Bridge.