"Bennu Asteroid" by NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona / Public Domain

An Asteroid Bigger Than the Empire State Building Will Pass Earth Soon. But Don’t Worry.

Aug 5, 2019

By Chelsea Gohd

Another asteroid is passing close by Earth but, no, it won’t hit us.

On Aug. 10, Asteroid 2006 QQ23 will fly within 0.049 astronomical units (4.6 million miles) of Earth at about 10,400 mph (16,740 km/h). This might not seem close, but it is close enough to classify the object as a near-Earth asteroid. Additionally, because it is within 0.05 astronomical units (4.65 million miles), it is close enough to be labeled as potentially hazardous.

The space rock measures about 1,870 feet in diameter, which is greater than the height of the Empire State Building, which stands 1,454 feet tall. Now, while it might seem unnerving that a “potentially hazardous” asteroid about the size of a landmark building is coming close to Earth (or relatively close by cosmic standards), we shouldn’t worry about the rock crashing into our planet. The object is “more or less benign,” Lindley Johnson and Kelly Fast, who track near-Earth objects with NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, told CNN.

NASA tracks comets and asteroids that veer close to Earth, not because they are imminent threats, but rather to ensure that they do not become threats. Every year, about six space objects about the size of Asteroid 2006 QQ23 pass by Earth, making this close approach a routine event.

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