A 220-foot wide asteroid will safely skim past Earth in just a few hours, in what astronomers are calling an "Earth close approach." The space rock has been dubbed 2019 BW1 and will safely swing past our planet, missing the Earth by more than 3 million miles.
This is the latest in a string of asteroid close encounters, as previously reported by the Inquisitr. Yesterday, an 1,100-foot wide asteroid named 2019 AV2 made a close flyby of Earth, buzzing our planet from about 4 million miles away, or 17.5 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
On Thursday, Earth was visited by asteroid 2019 BJ1 — a 210-foot-wide space rock which came a little closer to our planet, approaching at 3.4 times the distance to the moon or about 800,000 miles from Earth.
This latest space visitor was only discovered last week, on January 25, and is estimated to measure anywhere between 98.4 feet and 219.8 feet in diameter. According to asteroid trackers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), 2019 BW1 will make its closest approach to Earth later today, safely darting past our planet at 11:22 a.m. EST.
During its close flyby of Earth, the asteroid will be barreling through space at more than 21,400 mph. However, there is no cause for alarm, as asteroid 2019 BW1 poses on danger of hitting our planet.
Orbital calculations released on Wednesday by the JPL reassure that the asteroid will only come within 0.033 astronomical units (AU) of Earth. One AU represents the average distance between Earth and the sun and is equivalent to about 93 million miles.Judging by these numbers, the 220-foot asteroid will miss Earth by more than 3 million miles, approaching at about 13 times the distance between our planet and the moon. While this is not close enough to cause any type of panic, the asteroid still classifies as a near-Earth object — and is, therefore, carefully monitored by JPL asteroid trackers.
An object of this size would cause considerable damage should it find itself on a collision course with Earth. Even at the lower end of NASA's size estimate, the asteroid is still bigger than the 65.6-foot Chelyabinsk meteor which exploded in Earth's atmosphere above Russia in 2013, injuring more than 1,500 people and destroying around 7,000 buildings.
"An asteroid this big is eight times longer than a London double-decker bus and is 30 times the length of a Queen-Size bed," the Express notes about asteroid 2019 BW1. "At the same time, 16.5 Volkswagen Beetle cars could fit inside of the asteroid one after another."
The space rock is due for another trip through the inner solar system in about 100 years — though it won't come anywhere near our planet. In 2116, asteroid 2019 BW1 will make a flyby of Jupiter, dashing past the gas giant at a distance of 1.71 AU or almost 160 million miles.