A huge asteroid more than a mile wide will zoom safely by Earth today and you can watch it live today in a free online webcast.
The asteroid, known as asteroid 7335 (1989 JA), is four times the size of the Empire State Building and will pass the Earth at a distance about 10 times that of the space between the Earth and moon. It is the largest asteroid flyby of 2022 yet, but the space rock will remain at a perfectly safe distance to our planet.
The Virtual Telescope Project will run a webcast of the flyby at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT) on May 27; you can watch the flyby in the window above or directly through the project’s website (opens in new tab).
Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) is roughly 1.1. miles (1.8 kilometers) in diameter and its closest approach is a quite healthy 2.5 million miles (4 million km) away from Earth. The asteroid should be bright enough to glimpse in a moderate-sized amateur telescope, particularly from the southern hemisphere, Virtual Telescope Project founder Gianluca Masi noted.
Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) is technically classified as “potentially hazardous,” but that is more a designation based on its relative size (larger than 492 feet or 150 m) and the distance at which the object approaches Earth, among other factors.
NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office has found the object to be no threat at all. You can keep track of other prominent upcoming flybys (opens in new tab) and the agency’s Small-Body Database (opens in new tab) to learn more about asteroids.
The agency does maintain a curated list of asteroids (opens in new tab) with a tiny and statistically improbable chance of impact, but none of these are an immediate worry. The agency also keeps this pate updated. For example, asteroid Apophis was removed from the list in 2021 after new observations show it poses no threat at all in the next century.
Agencies around the world are also conducting missions to learn more about the composition and history of asteroids.
Examples include the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission aiming to redirect a moonlet (asteroid moon) and OSIRIS-REX (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer), which will bring a sample of asteroid Bennu to Earth in 2023.
These missions are done to assess the composition of asteroids just in case, and space agencies are also getting better at tracking asteroids. That’s why it might appear there are so many space rocks going by us these days.