An asteroid that is thought to be four times larger than Big Ben will come close to Earth’s orbit tomorrow.

The rock named 455176 (1999 VF22) was first sighted on November 10, 1999, and has an estimated diameter of 190m to 430m, according to NASA’s Earth Close Approaches list.

The space rock’s exact size isn’t known as its dark and unreflective surface makes it’s difficult for astronomers to measure but even at its smallest possible size, the asteroid would leave a city-sized dent in the Earth if it were to enter the atmosphere

The latest tracking from NASA claims that the asteroid will come within close proximity to Earth’s orbit tomorrow (Tuesday, February 22), although it is not deemed hazardous or expected to crash directly into the planet.

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However, the data gathered on Saturday, February 19 predicts that it will come close to Earth’s orbit but will remain just over five million kilometres away – which isn’t a lot in space terms.



The 430m asteroid will make an approach to Earth’s orbit tomorrow (February 22)

It is not clear if and where you will be able to catch a glimpse of it this time around as it is expected to zoom past at 6.01 am, travelling at 25.1km/s.

But there will be plenty of opportunities to see asteroid flybys – there are currently some 2,200 objects on the NASA Potentially Hazardous Asteroids list.

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The largest is Asteroid (53319) 1999 JM8 – a four-mile-wide monster that is luckily unlikely to come much closer to us than the planet Venus for the foreseeable future.



Big Ben
The asteroid is estimated to be up to four times the size of Big Ben

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The asteroid currently presenting the greatest threat is Bennu, a 460-foot rock that is likely to make a series of close passes of the Earth in a coming couple of centuries – with its closest approach coming on Tuesday, September 24, 2182, when it has a roughly 1-in-2,700 chance of hitting our planet.

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The next time the asteroid will make such a close approach – assuming its orbit isn’t perturbed by some other space rock, will be on or around February 23, 2150.

Its closest known previous approach was on October 31 1999 – 10 days before it was first observed by the Catalina Sky Survey.



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