A Mountain Everest-Sized Asteroid Is Set To Flyby The Earth Today

Two “potentially hazardous” asteroids are scheduled to pass Earth this week, but they do not present a threat to the globe. The “planet-killer,” asteroid (415029) 2011 UL21, will come closest to Earth in more than a century on June 27 at 20:14 UTC (22:14 CEST), according to the European Space Agency (ESA). On June 29, Asteroid 2024 MK, which was only found 13 days ago, will pass by.

The asteroid 2011 UL21, referred to as a “planet-killer,” has a size that can be compared to Mount Everest and speeds at 58,000 miles per hour. In its journey, it will pass Earth but at a safe distance of approximately 4.1 million miles (6.6 million kilometers). This distance is closer than it has been for over a century but the European Space Agency (ESA) assures us that there is no risk posed by this asteroid. In fact, it will fly past us at more than seventeen times the distance between Earth and the Moon. The reason why this huge asteroid— with a diameter ranging from 1.1 to 2.4 miles (1.7 to 3.9 kilometers)— is considered a “potentially hazardous object” is because it orbits close to Earth due to its size and cyclical proximity every three years when completing an orbit around the sun.

Asteroid 2024 MK, although smaller than 2011 UL21, is still sized between 390 and 885 feet in diameter. Its closest approach will bring it within a distance of 184,000 miles from Earth— about 77% of the average separation between Earth and the Moon. This upcoming close encounter with the asteroid would be notable as one of the most luminous near-Earth objects that have been sighted in recent times.

Though 2011 UL21 has an ominous name, it is not a threat to Earth. But if it crashed into Earth, it might destroy entire continents and send enough material into the atmosphere to alter our planet’s climate significantly. On June 28 and 29, Northern Hemisphere skywatchers may be able to see 2011 UL21 through a telescope, since it shines as brightly as Proxima Centauri.

Astronomers and scientists will get a rare chance to examine the asteroid’s path, makeup, and behavior thanks to the flyby, which will shed light on the early solar system and the possible dangers associated with near-Earth asteroids. Asteroid 2011 UL21 will not approach Earth as closely for another 65 years after June 27, 2024; its next near approach is anticipated in 2089, when it will be safely separated by 1.7 million miles (2.7 million kilometers).

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