NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which detects and predicts the trajectories of near-Earth space objects (NEOs) like asteroids, has confirmed that a gargantuan asteroid will fly past Earth this month safely.

Five times the size of Burj Khalifa

NASA's advanced asteroid tracking system has found a gargantuan asteroid that is expected to cross Earth's orbital path this month. Considering the data collected by the agency, the sheer size and the speed at which the asteroid is travelling is enough to cause a catastrophic event on the planet in the case of a collision but will be no real threat to our planet.

asteroid approaching earth
Representational image of asteroid Pixabay

Dubbed 1998 OR2, the space rock is estimated to be between 1.1 miles (1770 meters) and 2.5 miles (4023 meters) wide, which is nearly five times the height of the Burj Khalifa, one of the tallest structures in the world.

'Potentially hazardous'

Asteroid 1998 OR2 is just a few weeks away from entering Earth's orbital path as it is scheduled to arrive on April 29. Although NASA has labelled the space rock as "potentially hazardous," which it usually does with asteroids of this size coming within 4.6 million miles of Earth, the agency confirmed that 1998 OR2 will rocket past our planet from a safe distance.

"On April 29, asteroid 1998 OR2 will safely pass by 3.9 million miles/6.2 million kilometers," scientists with NASA's Asteroid Watch program said in a Twitter update as they debunked a news report warning of the asteroid heading toward Earth. "There is no warning about this asteroid," they reiterated in a separate Twitter post.

To put things into perspective, the distance that the asteroid will pass by from the Earth's center is equivalent to 16 times the distance between our planet and the Moon.

Will it be visible?

Given its humongous size, experts believe the asteroid will be visible from earth as it streaks through the skies on April 29. According to EarthSky.org, asteroid 1998 OR2 is expected to reach a visual magnitude of 10 or 11 (magnitude being a measure of an object's brightness). This means the asteroid will be visible in at least 6-inch or 8-inch telescopes, if weather permits.

If you are unable to view the asteroid through a telescope, you can watch the flyby in a live webcast by the Virtual Telescope Project. The free livestream will feature telescopic views of 1998 OR 2 on April 28, starting at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT).