ASTRONOMERS caught a rare glimpse of a potentially dangerous asteroid this week ahead of its Earth flyby.
The space rock 2007 FF1 is expected to have a close and safe encounter with our planet on April 1, according to space trackers.
The April Fool’s Day asteroid will pass within 4.6 million miles of our planet – or about 19 times the distance between Earth and the Moon.
Before the close approach, scientists from the Virtual Telescope Project (VTP) captured an image of the asteroid in the night sky.
It was imaged at a distance of about 7.2 million miles from Earth using one of the Italian facility’s largest telescopes.
“This approximately 200-meter-wide asteroid will reach its minimum distance from us on April 1 at 21:35 UTC,” wrote VTP founder Gianluca Masi.
“Of course there are absolutely no risks for our planet.”
The object has been included in Nasa’s Close Approaches database – although it poses no threat to our planet.
Thousands of so-called Near Earth Objects (NEOs) are being tracked to give early warning if they are on a collision course with our planet.
Any object within 4.65 million miles of us is classified as “potentially dangerous” by cautious space agencies.
According to Nasa, 2007 FF1 is moving at about eight miles per second.
It’s one of about a dozen asteroids expected to make close approach this week.
Fortunately, none of the asteroids being tracked by the space agency are believed to pose a threat to us.
Astronomers are currently tracking 2,000 asteroids, comets and other objects that may one day threaten our light blue dot, and new ones are being discovered every day.
Earth has not seen an asteroid of apocalyptic proportions since the space rock that wiped out dinosaurs 66 million years ago.
However, smaller objects capable of leveling an entire city do crash to earth from time to time.
One on June 30, 1908 near Tunguska in Siberia, a few hundred meters across, devastated 800 square miles of forest.
Luckily, Nasa doesn’t think any of the NEOs it’s keeping an eye on are on a collision course with our planet.
That could change in the coming months or years, however, as the space agency frequently revises the predicted trajectories of objects.
“NASA is currently not aware of any asteroid or comet on a collision course with Earth, so the likelihood of a major collision is pretty slim,” NASA says.
“As far as we can tell, no large object is likely to hit Earth for the next hundred years.”
Even if one did hit our planet, the vast majority of asteroids would not wipe out life as we know it.
According to NASA, “global catastrophes” are only triggered when objects with a diameter of more than 900 meters hit the earth.
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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/4991501/potentially-hazardous-asteroid-rare-image-close-approach/ ‘Potentially Dangerous’ asteroid snapped on April Fool’s Day ahead of close approach in rare image