A giant asteroid will sweep past Earth in our fourth next call this week with one of the recorded space objects.
The space rock, dubbed 2023 BU, was discovered by NASA just last weekend and is now expected to soar through Earth’s atmosphere, coming within 3400 km of our planet’s surface on Thursday morning.
The asteroid will have its closest encounter on Friday at around 00:30 GMT, which is around 11:30 Sydney time.
The giant object measures about 8.5m by 3.7m – the size of the largest African elephants and about half the size of the infamous Chelyabinsk meteor that hit Earth in 2013.
While 2023 BA won’t be seen with the naked eye, a live stream hosted by the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy will allow space enthusiasts to witness the historic event.
The live stream will be made available starting Thursday 19:15 GMT (or 6:15 Friday Sydney time) for people to take a look.
Australians have another chance to spot a space object in early February when a green comet visible to the naked eye hovers by.
Most asteroids pass within range of the moon, more than 380,000 km away, but this one is much closer.
In fact, it will be Earth’s closest encounter with an asteroid in 300 years.
According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, which includes data since 1900, the asteroid is expected to make the fourth-closest pass of more than 35,000 past and future approaches to Earth.
The space rock will fly past our planet at a whopping 53,000 km/h at a distance of 10,500 km from the center of the earth and 3400 km from its surface.
Experts have calculated its orbit and insist the asteroid has no chance of hitting Earth at this particular approach.
But even if it were, it probably wouldn’t surface.
Space rocks less than 25m in diameter are more likely to burn up when they enter Earth’s atmosphere, NASA says, meaning they do minimal damage on the ground.
Although it won’t hit us, technically the asteroid will pass through our planet’s uppermost atmosphere.
Known as the exosphere, this region extends between about 10,000 km and 200,000 km above Earth. However, most scientists don’t consider it a true part of Earth’s atmosphere because the air is so thin.
Despite this, asteroid 2023 BU will fly by well within geostationary satellite orbit over South America, but still far from the International Space Station at 400 km from Earth.
The space rock was discovered on Saturday at the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory in Nauchnyi, Crimea, by superstar astronomer Gennadiy Borisov – who also spotted the first comet ever seen to travel into the solar system from interstellar space.
2023 BU orbits the Sun every 425 days while its orbit occasionally intersects Earth’s orbit around our star.
It will next pass relatively close to us on December 6, 2036, but will be well outside the Moon’s orbit.
The asteroid is about half the size of the Chelyabinsk meteor that collided with Earth in February 2013 in Chelyabinsk, Russia, in the largest recorded meteorite impact in more than a century.
More than 1,600 people were injured by the shock wave from the blast, which was estimated to be as powerful as 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
Originally published as a Huge Asteroid passing in close proximity to Earth