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An asteroid will approach Earth this Saturday and it is a big one! The asteroid has been named by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) as 2019 YB4.
It has an estimated diameter of about 26 meters, large enough to create a truly big explosion in the sky if it strikes Earth. It is currently heading towards us at a speed of almost 22530 kilometers per hour.
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A very wide orbit
2019 YB4 is an Apollo asteroid meaning it follows a very wide orbit within the Solar System. 2019 YB4 only intersects Earth’s orbit twice as it goes around the Sun with its next intersection expected on January 4 at 5:33 am EST.
If this should happen, no impact on Earth will be felt. Instead, as 2019 YB4 reaches our atmosphere, it will burn up and explode.
That doesn't mean it won't produce a powerful explosion! The energy from its explosion would be the equivalent of 30 atomic bombs.
If it were close to Earth this could cause some real problems for people. Luckily, however, CNEOS has reported the asteroid will approach from a very safe distance of 0.00839 astronomical units.
Just 6 months ago, asteroid 2008 KV2, estimated to be about three times the length of a football field, passed by Earth at a distance of about 6.7 million kilometers. 2008 KV2 was labeled as a "potentially hazardous asteroid" by CNEOS due to its proximity.
However, in the end, all went well as the space rock simply passed on by and kept on going. The so-called skull-shaped asteroid also came particularly close to Earth in December of 2017.
2015 TB145 flew by the earth just barely missing the moon's orbit, flying at 486,000 kilometers per hour. In the end, no impact occurred, leaving everyone safe.
It might seem scary to think that we can be safe in this big crazy universe with so many elements. However, for now, at least, it seems we are.