A 1 km-long asteroid is set to zip past Earth next week. But there is no need to worry. The flyby will have a very safe clearance of 1.93 million km from Earth, meaning it would be more than 5.15 times farther away from us than the Moon. Scientists and astronomers keep a regular watch on incoming celestial objects and update people about interesting events to allow them to watch these with sophisticated equipment. While monitoring astrological events, they found that the asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 will approach Earth soon.
The space rock, classified as "potentially hazardous” due to its size and its regular close visits to our planet, will be closest to Earth at 3:21am (IST) on January 19. The last time the asteroid made an approach to Earth was 89 years ago on January 17, 1933. At that time, it was slightly closer at a distance of 1.1 million kilometres. And the next time it would come so close would be in the next century, on January 18, 2105.
According to Earth Sky, its regular close approaches should not lead to any fear among people about a potential collision. The calculations of its trajectory have only a margin of error of 133 km – that's negligible compared to its distance from Earth even when it is the closest. An asteroid of this size is predicted to hit Earth once every 600,000 years or so. However, the rock will be travelling at an incredible speed of 19.56 kilometres per second relative to Earth. The speed gives amateur astronomers an opportunity to spot it in the night sky using a 6-inch or larger backyard telescope. It will appear as a point of light, similar to a star, passing in front of background stars.
Australian astronomer Robert McNaught discovered the space rock in 1994, but scientists have been able to trace its path back to September 1974. The S-type asteroid belongs to the Apollo asteroid group.