A newly-discovered asteroid the size of a bus will fly past Earth at a distance close enough to be considered a near miss by astronomers.
Asteroid 2017 YZ4 – which was only discovered on Christmas Day – will pass between Earth and the moon at speeds of more than 21,000mph and at a distance of ‘just’ 139,433 miles (224,000 km), according to The Watchers.
The ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroid is 22.6 to 49 feet in diameter (seven to 15 metres) and is due to skim past Earth at 4.56pm this afternoon.
Nasa describes asteroids as hazardous if they come within the 4,600,000 mile (7,403,00km) threshold of proximity to our planet.
The distance between the Earth and the moon is 238,855 miles (384,400 km).
First spotted at the Mount Mount Lemmon Survey Observatory in Arizona, US, the asteroid will be the 52nd to pass between Earth and the moon this year.
‘This is the first known asteroid to flyby Earth within one lunar distance since two such asteroids flew past us 35 minutes apart on November 21,’ a Nasa spokesperson told the Express.
‘As of December 24, there are 17,495 known Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) around our planet, 17,389 are asteroids.
‘This year, we discovered 1,985 new near Earth asteroids. There were 1888 such objects discovered in 2016 and 1,571 in 2015.’
Experts say anything that flies closer than six million miles of our planet is a near earth asteroid and could cause severe damage were it ever to crash into Earth.
In February 2013, a 19-metre (62ft) meteor exploded in the skies above Chelyabinsk in Russia.
The energy was equivalent to 500,000 tonnes of TNT and injured more than 1,000 people.
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