A large asteroid will skim past Earth later today, hurtling through space at an incredible speed of more than 37,000 miles per hour. Dubbed 2019 BJ1, the asteroid is estimated to be 210 feet wide and will make a so-called “Earth Close Approach” in just a few hours, the Express is reporting.
According to experts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the space rock will make its closest approach to our planet at 1:41 p.m. EST, coming in at a little over three times the distance between the Earth and the moon. During its close flyby, the asteroid will reach a peak speed of around 37,446.3 miles per hour or 16.74 kilometers per second.
Asteroid 2019 BJ1 was discovered a mere three weeks ago, being first spotted on January 10. Since then, JPL specialists have been tracking its trajectory and were able to calculate the asteroid’s size, velocity, and flyby date and time.
The data shows that asteroid 2019 BJ1 measures somewhere between 95 feet and 210 feet in diameter. By comparison, the Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded in Earth’s atmosphere above Russia in 2013 – injuring more than 1,000 people and destroying 7,000 buildings – was only 65.6 feet wide.
“At the upper end of this estimate, the space rock is about 30 times longer than a Queen-Size bed and 15 times longer than a Volkswagen Beetle car,” states the Express.
“Even at just 95 feet [wide], the space rock is still 3.5 times longer than a red double-decker bus.”
Astronomers’ observations also revealed how far away asteroid 2019 BJ1 is from our planet — and how close it’s going to get during today’s flyby. The asteroid has been classified as a near-Earth object (NEO) and will zip past our planet at a distance of 0.00880 astronomical units (AU).
As the Inquisitr previously reported, NEOs orbit within 1.3 AU from the sun — or about 120.8 million miles. One AU represents the average distance between Earth and the sun and is equivalent to about 93 million miles.
This means that asteroid 2019 BJ1 will buzz by our planet from about 800,000 miles away at its closest approach, swinging by safely at 3.4 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
NASA asteroid WARNING: Giant 210ft asteroid will speed past Earth at 37,000MPH TOMORROW https://t.co/WzOqWhFyGc The asteroid, dubbed by NASA Asteroid 2019 BJ1, will make a so-called “Earth Close Approach”. NASA's astronomers expect the imposing asteroid… https://t.co/3AW7JdyWMN pic.twitter.com/TzvSiWaXci
— Hurshal (@Hurshal) January 30, 2019
Thirteen more asteroids will swoop close to our planet during the next seven months, coming in at under 10 lunar distances, shows the Sky Live. Of these 13 space rocks, the closest one will approach the Earth in just a few days. On February 2, asteroid 2019 BR3 will dart past our planet at 7 a.m. EST, whizzing by at just 1.6 times the distance to the moon.
Meanwhile, asteroid 2019 BJ1 is due for a return trip, although it will take a while for the 210-foot space rock to make it back to our neck of the cosmic woods. The asteroid will swing back on January 13, 2060.
However, its next visit won’t be nearly as close as today’s flyby. Four decades from now, asteroid 2019 BJ1 will only come as close as 16.5 lunar distances.