SPACE (KXAN) – Earth will have a close encounter with a small asteroid Thursday.
Named 2023 BU, the rock is about the size of a box truck, according to NASA. It’s estimated to be about 11 feet and 28 feet across, the space agency said.
When 2023 BU passes over the southern tip of South America at 6:27 p.m. CST, it will be only 2,200 miles above the Earth’s surface — or closer than some of the satellites currently orbiting the planet.
There is no risk that the asteroid impacting Earth, let alone posing a threat to its lifeforms, NASA assures. If it did manage to enter our atmosphere, it would “turn into a fireball” and break apart, NASA said, and small meteorites would then fall from the sky.
How can I see the asteroid passing Earth?
Stargazers have their best chance of seeing the asteroid pass over Earth on Thursday. Beginning at 1:15 p.m. CST, the Virtual Telescope Project will live-stream the close encounter. The service, provided by the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy, uses robotic telescopes to broadcast real-time space imagery online.
The asteroid was only recently discovered on Jan. 21 by amateur astronomer Gennadiy Borisov.
After the asteroid’s discovery, NASA used the Scout impact hazard assessment system to determine the threat the asteroid could pose. The system analyzes trajectories of Near Earth Objects (NEO) to determine any risk to life on Earth.
The system quickly predicted a near miss.