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Gigantic asteroid to fly safely past Earth in mid-April: NASA

The space rock is set to go past Earth at a distance of about 1.8 million km

IANS  |  Washington 

Space Center in Florida  Ingus Kruklitis /
Space Center in Florida Ingus Kruklitis /

A roughly 650-metre near-discovered nearly three years ago will fly safely past on April 19, has said.

The space rock is set to go past at a distance of about 1.8 million km or about 4.6 times the distance from to the moon.

Although there is no possibility for the to collide with our planet, the upcoming approach will be "very close" for an of this size.

The asteroid, known as 2014 JO25, was discovered in May 2014 by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona -- a project of NASA's NEO (near-object) Observations Programme in collaboration with the University of Arizona.

The surface of the is about twice as reflective as that of the moon, according to the scientists.

The will approach from the direction of the Sun and will become visible in the night sky after April 19.

It is predicted to brighten to about magnitude 11, when it could be visible in small optical telescopes for one or two nights before it fades as the distance from rapidly increases.

"Small asteroids pass within this distance of several times each week but this upcoming close approach is the closest by any known of this size, or larger, since Toutatis, a five-kilometre asteroid, which approached within about four lunar distances in September 2004," said in a statement on Friday.

The encounter on April 19 is the closest this has come to for at least the last 400 years and will be its closest approach for at least the next 500 years.

The next known encounter of an of comparable size will occur in 2027 when the 800-meter-wide 1999 AN10 will fly by at one lunar distance, about 380,000 km.

The April 19 encounter provides an outstanding opportunity to study this and astronomers plan to observe it with telescopes around the world to learn as much about it as possible.

Also on April 19, the comet PanSTARRS (C/2015 ER61) will make its closest approach to Earth, at a very safe distance of 175 million km, said.

First Published: Sun, April 09 2017. 02:27 IST