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24 Dec, 2019 12:17

Swing and a miss! Huge asteroid to narrowly pass by Earth on Boxing day

Swing and a miss! Huge asteroid to narrowly pass by Earth on Boxing day

While many people will be nursing their food hangovers after a Christmas feast, a giant, potentially hazardous, asteroid will shoot past the Earth. Fear not, this potential party pooper is not expected to disrupt the holidays.

The Near-Earth Object (NEO) is named 2000 CH59, after the year in which it was discovered. It is estimated to measure between up to 2,034 feet. At the upper end of the estimates it would dwarf both the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State building, meaning were it to hit it was cause immense damage.

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The space rock is believed to be travelling at a speed of 27,447mph, or roughly 18 times faster than an F-16 fighter flying at full speed, and will buzz the Earth at 7.54am UTC (2:54 am EST) on December 26. 

Its "close approach" will actually take place at about 4,530,666 miles from the Earth or 19 times farther than the moon according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

"Over many centuries and millennia [these asteroids] might evolve into Earth-crossing orbits," Paul Chodas, director of the CNEOS said, allaying fears that the holidays might be ruined. "So it is prudent to keep tracking [them] for decades to come and to study how their orbits might be evolving."

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So despite CH59 being classified as "potentially hazardous," there is currently no chance of it hitting the Earth based on its current trajectory, for at least the next century, if not more. 

CNEOS currently tracks 25,000 NEOs that are larger than 460 feet in diameter, but Chodas estimates we have detected just 35 percent of the total potential number of NEOs out there in space.

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