Hot on the heels of this morning’s asteroid flyby, two more space rocks will be buzzing planet Earth later today. According to asteroid trackers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the two celestial bodies were only discovered last month and will safely pass by our planet on a so-called “Earth close approach.”
The two asteroid flybys come several hours after a 393-foot space rock dubbed 2019 HO3 darted past Earth in the early hours of the morning, as previously covered by The Inquisitr. This brings the total of close asteroid encounters for today to three. However, unlike our early morning visitor, the two space rocks that are expected to pop by later today are significantly smaller and slower. In addition, one of them will be buzzing Earth from a lot farther away, while the other will come in just a little bit closer than 2019 HO3, per data from NASA’s Center For Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
In an odd coincidence, both asteroids will be making their closest-ever approach to planet Earth today, within a few hours of each other. After that, both space rocks will return in 2026, coming in for a close flyby of our planet one month apart.
The first of the two celestial travelers to traipse through our corner of space is asteroid 2019 HK. First spotted by NASA asteroid trackers on April 14, this is the larger of the two space rocks bound for a close encounter with planet Earth later today. The asteroid is estimated to measure between 124.6 feet and 278.8 feet in diameter and will swoop by for its closest-ever approach in the afternoon.
Cruising through space at more than 28,700 mph, asteroid 2019 HK will fly past Earth at 3:36 p.m. ET. However, there is no cause for concern about a possible collision with our planet, as the space rock will pass within 3.03 million miles of Earth’s surface, notes JPL. To put it into perspective, that’s 12.70 times the distance to the moon.
By comparison, asteroid 2019 HO3 only managed to come within 3.27 million miles of Earth when it zoomed past our planet at 6:17 a.m. ET today at a fantastic speed of more than 41,000 mph.
While 3.03 million miles may sound like a vast distance in terrestrial terms, today’s flyby will actually be the closest that asteroid 2019 HK has ever gotten to our planet – and the closest it will get for the foreseeable future. The last time the space rock paid Earth a visit was three years ago, on October 10, 2016. At the time, asteroid 2019 HK only ventured within 13.2 million miles of our planet’s surface.
The wayfaring space rock will return for another close encounter seven years from now. Its next flyby will occur on October 23, 2026, and it will be within 36.1 million miles of Earth.
Our following celestial visitor will make its swift appearance just three short hours after asteroid 2019 HK. Known as 2019 HW3, this particular space rock was discovered only four days ago and is estimated to be between 91.8 feet and 203.4 feet wide.
Hurtling through space at more than 19,300 mph, asteroid 2019 HW3 will skim past our planet at 6:55 p.m. ET, per a report from JPL. Its flyby will be the most distant of the three close approaches announced for May 1, as our third and final visitor for today will only come within 3.8 million miles of Earth. That’s nearly 16 times the distance between our planet and the moon.
Just like in the case of its predecessor, today’s flyby will also be the closest one ever for asteroid 2019 HW3. The space rock last visited our planet on November 14, 2018, when it came within 10.9 million miles of Earth. Its next visit has been pinpointed to November 15, 2026, and will carry it within 11.3 million miles of our planet’s surface.