Scientists have issued warnings and notices alerting people that a mile-wide “potentially hazardous” asteroid is going to skim Earth this coming weekend.

An unnamed space rock known only as asteroid (66391) 1999 KW4 is coming for a flyby near the Earth this Friday, May 25, and will be visible to people from both the South and North hemispheres, CNet reported.

NASA solar system ambassador Eddie Irizarry, in an article on EarthSky, explained that although the asteroid is considered a near-earth object that was considered a potentially hazardous object by the Minor Planet Center, it doesn’t pose a risk to our planet.

Asteroid 1999 KW4 is a binary system, meaning it is comprised of one large asteroid accompanied by a smaller one orbiting around it. The larger body is almost a mile, or 1.5 kilometers, wide; while the smaller body is about a third of a mile, or half a kilometer, wide.

The larger asteroid has an oblate shape: it is squashed at the poles and has a mountain range around its equator, making it look like a walnut or a spinning top, the Las Cumbres Observatory said. The two asteroids orbit each other once every 17.5 hours, at a distance of about 1.6 miles away from each other.

Here’s a video showing its interesting shape:


Asteroid 1999 KW4 was discovered in 1999 by the Lincoln Laboratory’s Near Earth Asteroid Research survey (LINEAR) in Socorro, New Mexico, and it is expected to pass by the Earth at a very safe distance of about 3,219,955 miles, or 5,182,015 kilometers. This is by far the second closest distance it has had with the Earth in the past two decades, and is expected to be the nearest until the asteroid passes by again in 2036.

Observing the asteroid

Asteroid 1999 KW4 will fly closest to the Earth at around 11:05 p.m. UTC (or 7:05 p.m. EDT) on May 25. Those who want to see the asteroid as it passes by will need to have a telescope with at least 8” in diameter, as it won’t be visible to the naked eye.

Sky enthusiasts from the Southern Hemisphere will be able to see it as it approaches the Earth on May 25. Those who are in the Northern Hemisphere, on the other hand, might be able to see it from May 27.