Large asteroid expected to pass very close to Earth

(WFLA) — On April 19, an asteroid will speed safely by Earth 1.1 million miles away or less than five times the distance from Earth to the moon.

NASA said there is no chance the 2,000-foot-wide space rock will hit our planet. But the flyby is remarkably close by astronomical standards.

“Although this asteroid doesn’t pose a threat to Earth or our neighbors, it’s larger and closer to us than any other in over a decade,” said WFLA News Channel 8’s meteorologist Ian Oliver. “We’re certainly glad to just watch it go by!”

Dr. William F. Bottke, a planetary scientist and asteroid expert at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., said if an asteroid this size hit Earth, it might blast an impact crater about 10 kilometers wide.

This asteroid is formally called 2014 JO25, and its surface is about twice as reflective as the moon’s.

Although, not visible to the naked eye, the asteroid will reportedly be close enough and bright enough that it will be visible through a small telescope.

Experts said this asteroid hasn’t come this close for at least the last 400 years and won’t come this close again for at least the next 500 years.

Smaller asteroids pass within this distance from Earth several times a week, NASA said.

NASA said if a big asteroid was headed for earth, and we had a couple decades of notice, we might be able to deflect it by blasting it with a “kinetic impactor” or positioning a large mass nearby to serve as a “gravity tractor.”

But don’t worry, NASA said there is no asteroid that poses a significant risk of impact with Earth over the next century.

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