'The Beast' undetected until April
A giant asteroid astronomers are calling “The Beast” will fly by Earth early Sunday morning at speeds of up to 31,000 mph -- and although there's no chance of it hitting our planet, experts say its massive size makes it something to take seriously.
The asteroid, 2014 HQ124, is about 1,067 feet across and as big as a football stadium, according to Space.com. It is set to fly by Earth around 1:56 a.m.
Bob Berman, an astronomer with the online Slooh community observatory, said the asteroid is at least 10 times bigger than the one last year in Chelyabinsk, Siberia. That meteor, which was 55 feet wide, was caught on video. It blasted glass out of windows, and shock waves from the blast injured more than 1,000 people.
The HQ124 asteroid is expected to be at least three lunar distances away when it zooms by Earth, according to Space.com. That's within 777,000 miles of Earth and about 3.25 times the distance from the Earth to the moon, says Scientific American. Slooh will broadcast the HQ124 event live.
HQ124 wasn't spotted by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer until April 23, which experts say is a long time for it to go unnoticed. The infrared Explorer picked it up against a backdrop of stars.
“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,” Berman said. “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.”
Sky surveys have cataloged and are tracking about 90 percent of the potentially dangerous asteroids that are 3,200 feet or larger in diameter and have the potential to destroy continents on impact, National Geographic reports.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Obama wants to end U.S. companies skirting tax laws by merging with overseas entities
- After 40 years, Wyo. fossil trove to get another look
- U.N. school in Gaza shelled; 15 Palestinian civilians killed, many children wounded
- Russia firing into Ukraine, U.S. intel finds
- Biden pushes economic plan
- Outcry saves rare albino-mix redwood in Calif.
- Feathered dinosaur fossil found
- Glenn Beck takes on Common Core
- Tyrannosaurs ran in packs, fossils prove
- Southwest water loss troubles experts
- Tornado slams Virginia campground, killing 2