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Watch as ‘the Beast’ Asteroid Sails Past Earth This Week

An asteroid zipping by the Earth moon system. Credit: ILLUSTRATION COURTESY P. CARRIL, ESA
Artwork showing an asteroid zipping by the Earth moon system. Credit: ILLUSTRATION COURTESY P. CARRIL, ESA

A giant asteroid will silently glide by Earth this week, a stark reminder of cosmic dangers lurking nearby.

Measuring about 1,067 feet (325 meters) wide, the space intruder nicknamed “the Beast,” more formally known as HQ124, has an estimated width equal to an aircraft carrier (earlier estimates had been even larger). It will be three lunar distances away from Earth at its closest approach on Thursday, so thankfully there is no risk to our planet.

However, it’s a big one and we didn’t notice its approach until April 23. While it’s nothing new, thanks to dedicated telescope surveys, to hear about asteroids whizzing past Earth or the moon, it is unusual to see such a large one go unnoticed for so long.

NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer picked up its movement against a fixed backdrop of stars, traveling at approximately 31,000 miles per hour (50,400 kilometers per hour).

Skychart showing the location of 'The Beast' asteroid as seen in the Southern Hemisphere skies this week. Credit: Slooh.com
Skychart showing the location of ‘The Beast’ asteroid as seen in the Southern Hemisphere skies this week. Credit: Slooh.com

Sky surveys have catalogued and are tracking approximately 90 percent of the potentially dangerous asteroids that are 3,200 feet (1,000 meters) and over in diameter. Those are the ones that have the potential to destroy continents on impact.

Only 30 percent of the 460-foot (140-meter) rocks have been accounted for, and unfortunately less than 1 percent of the 98-foot (30-meter) Earth-orbit crossers have been detected to date. While these may not be global killers, they have the potential to damage or destroy entire cities. A 2013 Russian asteroid strike damaged buildings and blew out windows across the Urals, for example.

“What’s disconcerting is that a rocky/metallic body this large, and coming so very close, should have only first been discovered this soon before its nearest approach. HQ124 is at least 10 times bigger, and possibly 20 times, than the asteroid that injured a thousand people last year in Chelyabinsk, Siberia,” said Bob Berman, an astronomer with Internet astronomy outreach venture Slooh.

“If it were to impact us, the energy released would be measured not in kilotons like the atomic bombs that ended World War II, but in H-bomb type megatons.”

Slooh will cover the flyby of the the Beast live on Thursday, June 5, starting at 11:30 a.m. PDT/2:30 p.m. EDT/6:30 p.m. UTC. For international times, visit http://goo.gl/0iYDxR .

Slooh will broadcast the event live from Australia, featuring time-lapse imagery from Slooh’s robotic observatory in Chile. Check out the live webcast below:

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on TwitterFacebook, and his website.

Comments

  1. Samantha
    Liverpool, England
    June 8, 7:30 pm

    Has it gone yet?? i was just watching the sky at night on BBC 4 and they told viewers they could moniter stars in searchfor astroids and such in a time lapse of 10 mins on http://www.astroidzoo.org so i tried to find the said site and had no luck then stumbled across this and even though it said it wont hit im still scared so i hope its gone now and i can sleep and my hands can stop sweating lol and i can stop vigorously searching for answers

  2. Felipe Herrador
    California
    June 8, 1:04 am

    On my earlier comment: it is not for “word cup” it is for the world cup.

  3. Felipe Herrador
    California
    June 8, 1:00 am

    Don’t worry, it’s just an out space national soccer team heading to Brazil for the word cup.

  4. Donna Whitaker
    Lafayette, Ga.
    June 7, 5:50 pm

    I hope it doesn’t hit another asteroid and break apart and send large fragments into earths atmosphere like what happen in Russia.

  5. Tope
    Ado Ekiti, Nigeria.
    June 6, 6:17 pm

    Its interesting watching, but frightening & dangerous for such slooh or space rock of such magnitude at that deadly speed of 54,000km/hr to travel pass earth. Thank God no casualty. I remember the bang of asteroid on Russia and serbia. God save planet earth from deadly flying space rock.

  6. Trinity
    Northern Territory, Australia
    June 6, 6:01 pm

    Im pretty sure i just seen it at 6.30am when i went to the bathroom (im staying in a caravan park in a remote area and walk outside to get to visit showers & bathrooms) its was alot bigger & brighter than a satellite and definitely not a plane :-)

  7. Alba
    mexico
    June 6, 4:00 pm

    Podrian traducir al español, sacan muchos articulos interesantes y muchos no entendemos el ingles. Gracias.

  8. Graeme
    London
    June 6, 2:14 pm

    Mind blowing to think if an asteroid is ever discovered to be on impact with earth, one of this size, there is not much we could do about it….

    Space is so exciting

  9. aL™
    Germany
    June 6, 12:40 pm

    If this beast has a trajectory hitting earth, it will be all over the news. This really show how our faith of humanity is not within our hands. Anytime, an asteroid bigger than this could hit the earth.

  10. Erin
    ohio, usa
    June 6, 7:58 am

    Does an asteroid pick up debris and get bigger as it travels through space?

  11. nell
    philippines
    June 6, 7:28 am

    can it be seen by all or not?

  12. venancio flores jr
    saudi arabia
    June 6, 6:47 am

    Is Saudi or Philippines can see this what time?

  13. Cynthia
    June 6, 6:30 am

    @She Irish. I see ET too!

  14. Anish Maharjan
    nepal
    June 6, 6:19 am

    i saw it on june 4th at 8 o clock in the night local time from my roof.

  15. Alin Asaftei
    Romania
    June 6, 5:53 am

    it’s going to hit O.o

  16. Ertuğrul GENÇ
    North Cyprus
    June 6, 3:43 am

    :)

  17. german
    España
    June 6, 3:11 am

    porque no le lanzan un misil, lo harian añicos, trocitos, ya hicieron ese experimento una vez. para eso si estoy de acuerdo que hagan misiles

  18. Ian Woodward
    France
    June 6, 2:34 am

    Looks more like the turtle head from the disc world support to me.

  19. Ricky sidhu
    Townsville
    June 6, 1:55 am

    I think this is gravity impact nd love our planet ;-);-);-);-)

  20. bhrigu
    india
    June 6, 12:28 am

    What abt attaching a camera over d asteroid so that we can c more …i wish so ..like attaching a camera on d tigers neck do discover their habitat

  21. Luna
    New zealand
    June 5, 10:19 pm

    Omg!!!!!! Hope it doesnt crash and wow what a magnificent news!

  22. Anonymous
    New York
    June 5, 9:02 pm

    New life is coming soon xD

  23. Saitis Sarcitis
    June 5, 8:46 pm

    Dear avn rocky,
    You sound like someone who can’t see the beauty and goodness in nature or humanity, and because of that I am truly sad for you.

  24. Michael J. Flanagan
    Highland, Ca.
    June 5, 8:23 pm

    She Irish-your right, it looks just like E.T., good eye.

  25. Stephen
    somewhere in MARS
    June 5, 8:15 pm

    Maybe the biggest threat to mankind is the asteroids like beast rather than “aliens”,As we know dinosaurs lived in the earth for billions of years and extincted for the asteroid.Hope the doomsday is not too early.

  26. Cal
    Belize
    June 5, 6:47 pm

    This is something just to remind you all out there that there is a god and people may not want to believe in him bit just think for a while that he is the creator and he whole this world in his hands .

  27. adambu
    Chicago
    June 5, 5:53 pm

    Can I see it

  28. She Irish
    Kansas City
    June 5, 4:50 pm

    First thing I noticed was that “the beast” looks like E.T.’s head lying down. I see a nose, mouth, and the eyes are shut.

    :-)

  29. masihsalar
    tehran
    June 5, 4:03 pm

    I live in Iran I can see this??

  30. emil walk
    philippines
    June 5, 3:31 pm

    ?????????

  31. Parsa
    Iran
    June 5, 3:31 pm

    Can its gravity affect on the earth?

  32. Roxanne
    June 5, 3:17 pm

    Google Slooh and you can watch it live

  33. Spyro
    Birmingham, Alabama USA
    June 5, 3:11 pm

    2:10 pm Central Time.

    Are the Southern States in America able to see the asteroid?

  34. sabah zaim
    syria
    June 5, 3:02 pm

    As kelvin said what time the Asteroid will fly past?

  35. Monica R
    Guatemala
    June 5, 2:56 pm

    Following the Broadcasting! Which distance is between the asteroid and Earth??

  36. avn rocky
    India
    June 5, 2:49 pm

    Dear Beast…

    Please change your path and destroy earth, where people are so greedy, mean and selfish… God created this world for humanity and its missing now a days.. we are just spoiling earth, spreading pollution and throwing garbage everywhere..

    That’s sad but its true. :(

    Avn

  37. Farhan
    Australia
    June 5, 2:38 pm

    is the dot going to get any bigger ? can you please zoom in please slooh ugh !

  38. WiccaChic
    USA
    June 5, 2:35 pm

    Crazy they didn’t find it til recently… Coulda hit us before they found it

  39. Trish
    United States
    June 5, 2:32 pm

    Still waiting……

  40. Sonia
    North Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada
    June 5, 2:25 pm

    in about 5mins

  41. Dan Swassing
    california
    June 5, 2:14 pm

    Can we send a probe, or attach a steering mechanism.

  42. Hilco
    Holland
    June 5, 1:59 pm

    Time is here 20.00 in the evening Holland

  43. Rex Dawson
    Mumbai, India
    June 5, 1:54 pm

    Play the Youtube Video

  44. Jim Lind
    Denmark
    June 5, 1:50 pm

    ‘Space intruder’?

    Maybe it didn’t read the sign.

    ‘Planet Earth, keep orf my land!’

    Give us a break.

  45. Smruti
    india>odisha>cuttack
    June 5, 1:22 pm

    on which time i can see it? my time zone is +5.30. On which direction on sky?

  46. chris
    greece
    June 5, 1:09 pm

    is greece available to see him ??

  47. jelle de soete
    Belguim
    June 5, 1:03 pm

    I’m disepointed i tought i woud see more

  48. Anand
    India
    June 5, 1:00 pm

    … so it’s little chunks land on us soon :( !

  49. Kelvin
    Singapore
    June 5, 1:00 pm

    Hi, May i know what time the Asteroid will fly past? is it visible with the naked eye?

  50. Jackie
    dallas
    June 5, 12:58 pm

    There is no way too access link or website. Is this valid info? Does anyone know.

  51. Hernan cortes
    United states of American
    June 5, 12:28 pm

    Is very interesting to know the indefensible we are

  52. Gabby
    Chicago
    June 5, 11:36 am

    There’s no link after it says, “Check out the live webcast below:”