A large asteroid is headed for Earth and will harmlessly swoop by our planet tomorrow morning in what NASA describes as a “close approach.” Estimated to measure between 288 feet to 656 feet in diameter, the space rock is known as asteroid 2018 VX8 — and it won’t be coming alone.
According to asteroid trackers at NASA’s Center For Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), three other space rocks are due to swing by our planet tomorrow, the closest of which will buzz Earth from around 3.5 times the distance to the moon.
Biggest Of The Bunch
Of the four asteroids expected to pay Earth a visit on Sunday, 2018 VX8 is the biggest and the most formidable. First discovered in late 2018, this space rock is a frequent visitor of our corner of the solar system. Over the past century, the asteroid has performed more than 30 flybys of Earth. However, tomorrow’s encounter will be the closest that asteroid 2018 VX8 has ever gotten to our planet.
Our celestial visitor is expected to pop by for its closest approach to Earth in the early hours of Sunday morning. Data from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, shows that the space rock will barrel past our planet at 4:55 a.m. ET.
During tomorrow’s close brush with Earth, asteroid 2018 VX8 will only come within 1.46 million miles of the planet’s surface. That’s a little over six times the distance between Earth and the moon.
The asteroid will double back for another visit in a few years’ time. Its next flyby of Earth is expected to occur in 2027. However, during its next journey through the inner solar system, asteroid 2018 VX8 will only manage to creep in within 38.1 million miles of Earth’s surface.
Smaller Asteroids In Tow
The hefty space rock will be accompanied by three smaller asteroids, each of them popping by at different hours throughout Sunday, CNEOS has announced. The three space rocks were all discovered earlier this month and are not expected to return to our neck of the cosmic woods for the foreseeable future.
The first of these tiny space rocks will actually skim Earth a few minutes before asteroid 2018 VX8, making a close, but perfectly safe, approach at 4:46 a.m. ET. Dubbed asteroid 2019 JL, the object is estimated to be up to 108 feet wide and will pass within 3.4 million miles of Earth, notes JPL.
A little over an hour later, Earth will be visited by another small asteroid, one no bigger than 144 feet across. Known as asteroid 2019 JO2, the space rock will dart past our planet at 5:53 a.m. ET, coming closer to Earth’s surface than the rest of tomorrow’s celestial visitors. As JPL points out, the asteroid will approach as close as 865,000 miles of Earth. That’s about 3.64 times the distance to the moon.
The final asteroid flyby expected on Sunday will see Earth get acquainted with a 190-foot space rock dubbed 2019 JM3. According to JPL, the object will hurtle past our planet at 2:01 p.m. ET. Cruising through space at incredible speeds of more than 45,000 mph, the asteroid will bypass planet Earth from a distance of 2.5 million miles away.