An asteroid is due to fly very close to our planet this week, and an astronomer is hoping to stream the event live.
2022 GN1 is a house-sized asteroid that is expected to pass Earth around 11:02 p.m. EDT on the night of April 5, according to data from NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
The space rock is estimated to be between 23.5 and 52 feet in diameter.
2022 GN1, listed as a potentially hazardous asteroid, or PHA, according to CNEOS, is not expected to collide with our planet, although it will pass very close compared to other sizeable asteroids, coming within 78,000 miles of us — just a third of that distance between Earth and Moon.
As it flies past our planet, 2022 GN1 is expected to travel at a speed of about 34,500 miles per hour.
The asteroid’s encounter with Earth is videotaped by telescope by astronomer Gianluca Masi, manager of the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy, who described it as “very close but safe”.
The video will be streamed live on April 5 at 9:00 p.m. EDT on the Virtual Telescope Project’s WebTV page.
As of Tuesday morning, only one other asteroid — 2022 GQ1 — will come as close to Earth as 2022 GN1 within the next two months, according to CNEOS. All others will be further away than the moon.
2022 GQ1 is expected to fly by our planet on Thursday, April 7th at around 7:17 am. With an estimated diameter of between 22 and 50 feet, it is expected to fly at a speed of about 17,400 miles per hour. It’s not meant to collide with our planet.
Scientists are always on the lookout for asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth. According to CNEOS, on average, an asteroid larger than about 100 meters (328 feet) would be expected to reach our planet’s surface about every 10,000 years.
This would cause local disasters or tidal waves that could affect low-lying coastal areas.
An asteroid more than a kilometer (0.62 miles) in diameter can be expected to strike Earth once every “several hundred thousand years or so,” according to CNEOS on its website. Such an impact could cause global catastrophes.
As of Tuesday, astronomers had spotted more than 10,000 near-Earth asteroids larger than 100 meters in diameter and 881 larger than a kilometer in diameter.
Much smaller asteroids collide with our planet fairly regularly. A loud bang heard in the state of Indiana last week was attributed to a space rock exploding in the sky.