An asteroid as big as the Rock of Gibraltar will streak past Earth on April 19 at a safe but uncomfortably close distance, according to astronomers.
“Although there is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid this size,” NASA said in a statement.
Dubbed 2014-JO25 and roughly 650 meters (2,000 feet) across, the asteroid will come within 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) of Earth, less than five times the distance to the Moon.
It will pass closest to our planet after having looped around the Sun. 2014-J25’s will then continue on past Jupiter before heading back toward the centre of our Solar System.
Smaller asteroids whizz by Earth several times a week. But the last time one at least this size came as close was in 2004, when Toutatis — five kilometers (3.1 miles) across — passed within four lunar distances.
The next close encounter with a big rock will not happen before 2027, when the 800-meter (half-mile) wide asteroid 199-AN10 will fly by at just one lunar distance, about 380,000 km (236,000 miles).