A SMALL asteroid is approaching Earth’s orbit today – and no one saw it coming just a few days ago.
Dubbed Asteroid 2022 NF, the space object will be passing within just 56,000 miles of our home planet.
That number of miles is about 23 percent of the average distance between Earth and the Moon.
Scientists from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California reassured that the rock will pass by Earth safely.
Asteroid 2022 NF
The space rock was first spotted just days ago, on July 4, by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) at Haleakala Observatory, Hawaii.
Asteroid 2022 NF orbits the sun about every six years, according to JPL’s Small-Body Database.
At its longest dimension, the asteroid measures between 18 feet and 41 feet – that’s around the size of a large bus.
Because of its smaller size, 2022 NF is not considered a “potentially hazardous asteroid,” per NASA’s criteria.
Typically, an asteroid must measure at least 460 feet (140 meters) long and pass within 4.6 million miles (7.5 million km) of Earth, according to Space.com.
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What is an asteroid?
An asteroid is a small rocky body that orbits the Sun.
Most are found in the asteroid belt (between Mars and Jupiter) but they can be found anywhere (including in a path that can impact Earth).
They differ from comets, which are mostly made of ice and gas, and feature long ‘tails’ behind them.
How can I watch Asteroid 2022 NF?
Interested persons could watch the flyby today on Virtual Telescope’s webpage and YouTube account.
However, if you’re an amateur astronomer, you could use your own telescope.
Of course, it’s important to note that the viewing conditions will need to be clear for this.