Largest asteroid to fly past Earth this year is coming soon — and it’s huge

Telescope pointed at a starry sky.
Telescope pointed at a starry sky. (Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels.)

The largest asteroid known to be passing near Earth this year will also be one of the fastest rocks to cruise past our planet, and it’s all happening March 21.

Before you panic, just know this: though it’s been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid -- because of its size and frequency of passing near Earth -- but there’s no risk of impact, according to EarthSky.

Asteroid 2001 FO32, which is approximately .6 miles in diameter, has been compared to the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, although it’s not quite as long.

If you’re thinking that’s impressive, the rock will be cruising through space at about 76,980 mph -- or 21 miles per second, relative to Earth.

By comparison, EarthSky reports our planet travels around the sun at about 18 miles per second.

But here’s what you’re likely really wanting to know: While the naked eye won’t quite be able to spot the rock, it will likely be visible to those using backyard telescopes — specifically those using 8-inch or larger-diameter telescopes.

And because the asteroid will be moving at such a swift pace, viewers might be able to detect its motion in real time.

So, at what time and where will you be able to see Asteroid 2001 FO32?

The closest approach will be at 11:03 a.m. ET, according to EarthSky.

For those looking from the north, the asteroid will be relatively low in the southern sky.

For those looking from the south, the asteroid will be low in the sky, above the southern horizon.

The next time this asteroid will encounter our planet will be in 31 years. However, this year’s sighting will be the closest to Earth for the next 200 years.

About the Author:

Dawn is a Digital Content Editor who has been with Graham Media Group since April 2013. She graduated from Texas State University with a degree in electronic media.