As we go about our daily routines next week, an asteroid with a diameter of 3,451 feet (0.65 miles or just over one kilometer) will fly past our Earth at the speed of thousands of miles an hour, CNN reported.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Small-body Database, the asteroid is called 7482 or 1994 PC1 since it was discovered in 1994 by Robert McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Inverse adds that the orbit of the asteroid around the Sun is 1.57 Earth years long. This means that its orbit crosses that of the Earth every 30 years or so.
On January 18 2022 at 4.51 p.m, Eastern Time 7482 will come closest to Earth than it will ever be in the next 200 years, CNN reported. As it travels at an astonishing speed of 47,344 miles an hour (76,192 kph), the asteroid will still be at a relatively safe distance of 1.2 million miles (1.93 million km) from the planet we currently call home.
The large distance is relatively small in astronomical terms and NASA classifies all objects that are within a distance of 30 million miles (48 million km) as Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). Space organizations across the globe are on the lookout for any such NEO that can potentially harm the Earth.
In November last year, NASA sent out its Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission which will crash a spacecraft into an asteroid to determine if such an evasive action can be used in the future from a potentially threatening NEO. 7482, on the other hand, is unlikely to turn into such a threat anytime in the future.
So, if you would like to have a look at this massive asteroid that has been wrongly termed 'apocalyptic' in the past, all you need to do is show up with a decent telescope and use EarthSky's directions to spot it in the sky. In case, you do not have access to one or are too lazy to step out, you can even catch its live streaming on the Virtual Telescope Project's website, Inverse reported.
This isn't the largest asteroid to zoom past the Earth though. Asteroid 3122 Florence (1981 ET3) holds that record currently with its diameter expected to be up to 5.5 miles (8.85 km) wide. It will fly past Earth next in September 2057, CNN reported.