Share

Near-Earth Asteroid Nicknamed "The Beast" Will Fly By Earth Sunday

By Allie Goolrick
Published: June 7, 2014

An asteroid so big that astronomers have dubbed it "The Beast" will get perilously close to Earth this weekend, although it poses no chance of actually hitting the planet, NASA reports.

The mammoth asteroid 2014 HQ124, which is as big as a football stadium, will zoom by Earth on June 8 around 1:56 a.m., according to Space.com. The Beast will barrel past Earth traveling up to 31,000 mph, but at a safe distance of three lunar distances away.

(MORE: Ancient Planet Found on the Moon!)

Despite the fact that there is no immediate risk to Earth, the asteroid's massive size -- about 1,100 feet across -- is enough to worry astronomers.

"HQ124 is at least 10 times bigger, and possibly 20 times, than the asteroid that injured a thousand people last year in Chelyabinsk, Siberia," Bob Berman of the online Slooh community observatory said in a statement. The meteor that blasted glass out of windows and rattled entire cities was only about 55-feet wide.

Even more disturbing is that the massive space rock that'll make a near-earth approach this weekend wasn't spotted by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer until April 23, less than two months ago.

Discovery News reports that more than 90 percent of dangerous near-Earth asteroids have already been discovered.  According to National Geographic, only 30 percent of the smaller (less than 500-foot) space rocks have been spotted. While smaller asteroids may not destroy the planet, they can damage or even destroy entire cities, as evidenced by the 2013 Russian asteroid strike.

An asteroid the size of the Beast would devastate the planet if it collided with Earth.

“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 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."

Still, to put it into perspective, the Beast isn't as big as asteroids get: the space rock that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was estimated to be a whopping 6 miles across.

MORE: Incredible Light Trails From Space

NASA astronaut Don Pettit captured stunning star trails using a long-exposure technique while on the International Space Station in 2012. (NASA/Don Pettit)


Featured Blogs

October 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By Christopher C. Burt
November 22, 2014

October was globally the warmest such on record according to NOAA (see Jeff Master’s blog for more about this). Extreme heat waves affected southern South America and California with exceptional warmth in Europe and Australia as well. Intense rainfalls plagued southern France and Italy. Deadly flooding and mudslides occurred in Sri Lanka. A blizzard in Nepal killed at least 43 trekkers and their guides. Hurricane Gonzalo was the first CAT 4 tropical storm in three years to form in the Atlantic Basin and struck Bermuda. Typhoon Vongfong was the Earth’s most powerful storm of the year.

October 2014: Earth's Third Consecutive Warmest Month on Record

By Dr. Jeff Masters
November 21, 2014

October 2014 was the warmest October on record, and the year-to-date-period January - October was Earth's warmest such period since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA. They also rated the past 12 months--November 2013 through October 2014--as the warmest consecutive 12-month period among all months since records began in 1880; 2014 will be the warmest calendar year on record if global temperatures in November and December merely match their average values recorded since 2000.

Live Blog: Tracking Hurricane Arthur as it Approaches North Carolina Coast

By Shaun Tanner
July 3, 2014

This is a live blog set up to provide the latest coverage on Hurricane Arthur as it threatens the North Carolina Coast. Check back often to see what the latest is with Arthur. The most recent updates are at the top.

Tropical Terminology

By Stu Ostro
June 30, 2014

Here is some basic, fundamental terminology related to tropical cyclones. Rather than a comprehensive and/or technical glossary, this represents the essence of the meaning & importance of some key, frequently used terms.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.