Asteroid size of Big Ben slams through Earth orbit in hours and will be closer than moon
A massive asteroid the size of Big Ben is hurtling towards Earth in a 'once in a decade' event – and it will be here in a matter of hours..
Given the name of 2023 DZ2 by NASA'S experts, the giant rock will skim around 107,500 miles to Earth on Saturday evening - twice as close as the Moon.
If the worst had happened it's estimated that an impact would in 214 times the 'Fat Man' atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
Asteroid 2023 D72 was only discovered on February 27 and it's making quite a stir the astronomy world.
Saturday's approach could be visible to amateur astronomers with modest telescopes - if you live in Southeast Asia.
NASA's Asteroid Watch team revealed of the impeding close impact of the 300ft-wide rock.
They tweeted: “A newly discovered #asteroid named 2023 DZ2 will safely pass by Earth on Saturday at 100K+ miles away.
“While close approaches are a regular occurrence, one by an asteroid of this size (140-310 ft) happens only about once per decade, providing a unique opportunity for science.
“Astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network are using this close approach to learn as much as possible about 2023 DZ2 in a short time period."
Asteroids - what do we know then?
DZ2’s historic approach comes at an… interesting time for mankind’s study of space rocks. NASA confirmed earlier this week that it’s actually changed its calculations for how often “planet killer” asteroids could threaten Earth – and it’s not good news. New research by James Garvin, chief scientist of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, suggests that impacts of space rocks over half a mile across could be three times more frequent than previous estimates.
Happy noon to all our readers in the UK, and happy whatever time it is elsewhere if you're reading this from further afield!
We know what you're thinking and yes, it's definitely time to check in on today's most famous space rock.
Asteroid DZ2 is less than eight hours out now and, as you can see, getting closer by the second.
So don't close your eyes, and definitely don't fall asleep.
Don't want to miss a thing.
A closer look at DZ2
NASA's "Eyes on Asteroids" Tracker offers stargazers a chance to take a properly close look at DZ2 as it barrels nearer to us than most space rocks will ever get.
So... What does a 300-foot asteroid look like?
Here's NASA's best rendering for you!
So when will it hit us?
If DZ2 doesn't hit Earth in 2026, it will be back around in 2029 – which will be even closer than the previous two journeys, at which point it’s thought it would be fully visible to the naked eye as it made its near-Earth approach.
There's a 1/550 chance it could hit us – in three years
DZ2’s orbit around the Sun is thought to take around 3.16 years, and has an uncertainty range – the amount our predictions of its orbit could actually be wrong – of around one million kilometres. But don’t worry, this time around it is now closer enough for scientists to be sure it has an impact probability of zero. However, expert Tony Dunn tweeted that the asteroid has a 1/550 chance of impacting on the planet when it next comes near in 2026 – but this weekend's trip should be safe.