This evening, a huge asteroid known as 7482 (1994 PC1) will make its closest approach to us Earthlings for the next 200 years. It’ll pass us by at a cool 76,193 km per hour, so you don’t want to miss your chance to catch a glimpse. Here’s how you can get a once-in-a-lifetime viewing of this space event, plus all the answers to your burning space-rock questions.
What’s the deal with this asteroid?
7482 (1994 PC1) was discovered in 1994. NASA’s Centre for Near Earth Object Studies, which tracks potentially hazardous comets and asteroids that could collide with our planet, says this is the closest that 7482 (1994 PC1) will come for the next two centuries.
How close is a “close” asteroid?
Don’t fret: Nobody expects this asteroid to come close to colliding with Earth. More specifically, this asteroid will get no closer than five lunar distances during its closest approach. Put more clearly: 7482 (1994 PC1) will remain safely 1.2 million miles away, per NASA’s Twitter account.
How huge is a “huge” asteroid?
When should I watch asteroid 7482 (1994 PC1)?
The asteroid is expected to be at its nearest to our planet at 8:51 a.m. AEDT. Unfortunately, today’s asteroid passing is unlikely to be visible with the naked eye. Luckily, if you can get your hands on a small telescope, you should be able to spot it, according to the website EarthSky.com.
If you don’t have access to a telescope, never fear: EarthSky has a livestream here. You can track the asteroid’s progress on NASA’s “Eyes on Asteroids” site here.
One last question: What exactly is an asteroid?
Not to be confused with a comet or a meteor, an asteroid is “any of millions of small celestial objects revolving around the sun, often irregularly shaped and having a great range in size.” They’re essentially space debris left over from when the solar system formed. In disaster movies, the big space rock that might destroy the entire planet is typically an asteroid. Not today, though. We’re gonna live.
For all your juicy asteroid and comet news and updates, follow @AsteroidWatch on Twitter. Happy space-gazing.