RALEIGH When a massive asteroid passes by the Earth Wednesday, it will be the closest an object will have come to Earth in 400 years.
The abnormally large asteroid officially named 2014 JO25, was affectionately dubbed “The Rock” by astronomers at robotic telescope service Slooh in honor of abnormally large man Dwayne Johnson, the actor and former pro wrestler. “The Rock,” discovered 3 years ago, will safely fly past Earth Wednesday night at a distance of 1.1 million miles or about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon, a NASA release said.
Small asteroids whiz by Earth all the time, but “The Rock” is unusual because of its massive size, NASA said. There is no possibility the asteroid will collide with the Earth.
“The Rock” was discovered in May 2014 by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona. The peanut-shaped object is moving at about 33 meters per second and measures about 2,000 feet (650 meters) in size, and that its surface is about twice as reflective as that of the moon.
When “The Rock” passes by, it will approach Earth from the direction of the sun and will become visible in the night sky after April 19, NASA said. It is predicted to brighten slightly, and expert stargazers may even be able to spot it with a small telescope.
More information about near-earth objects, or asteroids, check out NASA’s Asteroid and comet watch webpage, or check them out on Twitter at twitter.com/AsteroidWatch.