A huge asteroid is expected to pop by our corner of space on Friday morning, The Express is reporting. The space rock in question is dubbed 2019 DN and is headed for what astronomers are calling a “close Earth approach” on March 8, when it will pass within 3.2 million miles from our planet.
Friday’s close encounter will be followed by another brush with an even bigger space rock exactly two weeks from now. On March 20, asteroid 2019 CD5 will buzz Earth in the early hours of the morning, approaching even closer than this week’s celestial visitor.
As their official designations suggest, both asteroids have only been recently discovered, coming up on NASA’s radar in the first couple of months since the beginning of 2019. Asteroid DN, due to grace us with its presence later this week, was first spotted a mere week ago, on February 26. Meanwhile, CD5 was picked up by NASA asteroid trackers earlier last month, on February 4.
The two space rocks are classified as near-Earth objects (NEOs). As The Inquisitr previously reported, NEOs are celestial bodies that orbit within 1.3 astronomical units (AU) from the sun, where one AU represents the average distance between Earth and the sun and is equivalent to roughly 93 million miles.
“Near-Earth Objects are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood,” explains NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
Although these objects skim Earth from distances of millions of miles away, their approach to our planet is considered a close one compared to usual astronomical scales. As such, NASA asteroid trackers are keeping an eye on these space rocks, calculating their orbit, size, speed, and proximity to Earth.
Asteroid Close Encounter On March 8
The first of the two asteroids to swing by our neck of the cosmic woods is 2019 DN. The space rock is estimated to measure 656 feet across and will make its closest approach to Earth at 11.19 a.m. EST on Friday.
According to NASA asteroid trackers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, asteroid 2019 DN will be barreling through space at break-neck speeds of more than 16,000 mph. This means that during its close flyby of Earth the space rock will be cruising at nearly 21 times the speed of sound.
Friday’s celestial visitor is expected to safely dart past our planet, skimming Earth from a distance of 3.2 million miles away. JPL data shows that the space rock will only come within 0.0347 AU of Earth — or 13.5 times the distance between Earth and the moon, also known as lunar distance (LD).
Close Earth Approach On March 20
Following this week’s safe close encounter, Earth will be buzzed by another space rock toward the end of the month. On March 20, asteroid 2019 CD5 will swing around for a close flyby, safely zooming past Earth at a distance of 0.0259 AU.
Although the asteroid will creep in closer than 2019 DN, the space rock will miss Earth by 2.4 million miles. This means that during its close approach 2019 DN will be a little over 10 times more distant than the moon is to our planet.
The space rock is estimated to measure a whopping 750 feet in diameter. JPL calculations revealed that the asteroid will make its closest approach at 4.05 a.m. EST on March 20, hurtling past our planet at a staggering speed of 38,000 mph.
Asteroid 2019 CD5 will return for another close visit some 70 years from now. On March 15, 2093, the space rock will double back to our corner of the solar system but it will only come within 9.6 million miles from Earth (0.1041 AU, 40.5 LD).