Big asteroid to safely whiz by Earth; Here’s how to see it

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WASHINGTON — A large asteroid is hurtling toward Earth — but there’s no need to duck and cover.

The space rock, known by the very dull name of 2014 JO25, will safely fly by Earth on Wednesday, according to NASA. There is zero chance of it pounding the planet, experts said.

“Although there is no possibility for the asteroid to collide with our planet, this will be a very close approach for an asteroid of this size,” NASA said in a statement.

Measurements taken by NASA’s NEOWISE space probe indicate the asteroid is about 2,000 feet in size. That’s about 670 yards, or about the length of six football fields.

And how close is “very close”? NASA said this rock will come about 1.1 million miles from Earth. That’s about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon, which is about 239,000 miles from Earth.

While several small asteroids pass within this distance of Earth a few times a week, this is the closest by any known asteroid of this size or bigger in 13 years — since asteroid Toutatis in 2004, according to the space agency.

This asteroid has a reflective surface and might be seen with a telescope.

“The asteroid will approach Earth from the direction of the sun and will become visible in the night sky after April 19,” NASA said.

Astronomers discovered 2014 J025 three years ago. This will be its closest encounter with Earth for the last 400 years. NASA said telescopes around the world will be trained on it during the flyby to try to learn more about it.

“Radar observations are planned at NASA’s Goldstone Solar System Radar in California and the National Science Foundation’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the resulting radar images could reveal surface details as small as a few meters,” NASA said.

Comet PanSTARRS (C/2015 ER61) also is making its closest approach to Earth — coming about 109 million miles from the planet. NASA said it’s visible in the dawn sky with binoculars or a small telescope.

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