A near-Earth asteroid will be wandering through our corner of the solar system in a close, but completely safe, flyby tomorrow evening.
The space rock is dubbed asteroid 2019 CB2 and was first spotted a mere four days ago, on February 5. According to asteroid trackers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), tomorrow’s visitor will make its closest approach to Earth at 8:20 p.m. EST – barreling past our planet at break-neck speeds of more than 29,000 mph.
Although not a large asteroid, 2019 CB2 is nevertheless quite a sizeable space rock. JPL asteroid trackers have estimated its diameter to be between 59 and 127.9 feet.
“An asteroid this big is approximately 19 times as long as a Queen-Size bed and 9.5 times the length of a Volkswagen Beetle car,” notes the British media outlet Express.
“It would take about four-and-a-half London double-decker buses in a row to match the asteroid.”
The newly discovered space rock is currently on a path that steers it toward what astronomers call an “Earth close approach.” This means that the near-Earth asteroid will be cruising relatively close to our planet, but without posing any threat or approaching too close for comfort.
After monitoring asteroid 2019 CB2 for the past few days, JPL specialists have determined exactly how close the space rock will pass during its flyby tomorrow. Their calculations revealed that 2019 CB2 will only approach within 0.00698 astronomical units (AU) of Earth.
NASA asteroid WARNING: Giant asteroid headed for Earth approach this weekend at 29,000MPH. pic.twitter.com/5CHUMmFUjP— Headibyte Breaking News???? (@Headibyte) February 9, 2019
As the Inquisitr previously reported, one AU represents the average distance between Earth and the Sun and is equivalent to about 93 million miles. Since asteroid 2019 CB2 will only come as close as 0.00698 AU to our planet, this means that the space rock will miss Earth by almost 650,000 miles.
Judging by these numbers, the space rock will fly past our planet at 2.7 times the distance to the moon.
During its closest pass by our planet, the asteroid will dart past Earth at incredible speeds of 29,125 mph. That’s nearly 38 times the speed of sound, the Express points out.
The same speed was estimated for the much larger, 1,100-foot-wide space rock that skimmed past our planet on February 1, as reported by the Inquisitr at the time.
This was the asteroid's closest flyby in 111 years — and the closest it will get over the next 157 years.https://t.co/Wa5yU6y4wk— Alexandra Lozovschi (@lumeaecolorata) February 1, 2019
Tomorrow’s close encounter with asteroid 2019 CB2 won’t be the first — nor the last — time that the space rock buzzes our planet. Over the past three decades, the asteroid made 13 other flybys of Earth, which go back in time as far as January 20, 1984.
The last time that 2019 CB2 came whizzing past our planet was three years ago. On September 5, 2015, the asteroid approached the Earth from a distance of 0.3131 AU — or 29 million miles – nearly 122 times farther away than the moon.
The next flyby of asteroid 2019 CB2 will occur next year. On September 5, 2020, the space rock will buzz our planet from 28 million miles away — or 0.3053 AU — coming within 118.9 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
Interestingly enough, tomorrow’s flyby is actually the closest encounter we’ve had – and will ever have – with asteroid 2019 CB2. From now until 2122, the space rock will make 33 more passes through our neck of the celestial woods. However, all of these flybys will be more distant than the one set to occur this Sunday.