Is it possible to see the asteroid Nereus today?
A GIGANTIC space rock will skim Earth's orbit today, and here's how you can see it. Asteroid 4660 Nereus, which is larger than the Shard in London, is one of the closest known giant asteroids to pass us. It will pass about 4.6 million miles from Earth today.
Since it was first discovered nearly 40 years ago, this will be the closest asteroid Nereus has come to Earth.
Fast-moving objects in space that approach within 4.65 million miles of Earth are considered "potentially hazardous" by NASA, though the rock "will not pose a threat to humanity."
Nereus may be visible from the UK today if the skies are clear, and the best time for Brits to see it is around 2.50pm â still a few million miles away.
The asteroid, which is 330 meters long, will approach the earth at a distance of less than half the distance between the earth and the sun, putting it on a collision course with our planet if its orbit deviates slightly.
The chance of it hitting Earth, according to Dr Frank Marchis, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and chief scientific officer at Unistellar, is small.
"Things could go wrong â there's always a chance," he added, "but it's a small chance, and we're keeping an eye on it so people can rest easy."
Although 4660 Nereus does not appear to be a threat in 2021, it is expected to approach Earth much closer in the future.
The closest approach is expected on Valentine's Day in 2060, when it will be 745,000 miles away, three times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
Thousands of meteoroids and asteroids have passed by the Earth since 1989, according to scientists and astronomers.
NASA is currently tracking the path of hundreds of asteroids that could pose a threat to human life on Earth, including Didymos, a killer asteroid.
The asteroid will pass close to Earth in October 2022, and a spacecraft is being built to knock it off course if necessary.
According to NASA, there is currently no "significant risk" of an asteroid colliding with Earth in the next century.