KEY POINTS

  • NASA has detected four asteroids that are currently headed for Earth
  • One of the approaching asteroids is bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza
  • All four asteroids have natural orbits that intersect Earth's path

NASA is currently monitoring four asteroids that are expected to approach Earth tomorrow. According to the agency’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), all four asteroids have orbits that intersect the planet’s path.

The first asteroid that will arrive tomorrow is called 2020 AC. As indicated in CNEOS’ database, this asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 89 feet. It is currently moving towards Earth at a speed of almost 13,000 miles per hour.

Trailing behind 2020 AC is an asteroid known as 2020 AD. This asteroid is flying at an impressive velocity of almost 35,000 miles per hour. CNEOS estimated that it is about 72 feet wide.

The third asteroid that will debut in Earth’s vicinity tomorrow has been identified as 2019 YH2. As the largest asteroid in the group, 2019 YH2 has an estimated diameter of 459 feet, which means it is taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. According to CNEOS, this asteroid is approaching Earth at a speed of about 32,000 miles per hour.

The last asteroid that will fly past Earth tomorrow is called 2019 AE3. This asteroid has an estimated diameter of 72 feet and is currently traveling at a speed of over 18,000 miles per hour.

Both 2020 AC and 2019 AE3 are classified as Aten asteroids. This means they follow a semi-major axis that’s smaller than that of Earth. Occasionally, they would intersect the planet’s orbit as it goes around the Sun.

2020 AD and 2019 YH2, on the other hand, are Apollo asteroids. Unlike Aten asteroids, Apollos have very wide orbits. But, like their Aten counterparts, Apollo asteroids are also known to cross Earth’s path.

All four asteroids are expected to fly past Earth on Jan. 2. According to CNEOS, 2020 AC will approach the planet at 1:56 am EST from a distance of 0.00866 astronomical units or around 805,000 miles away. This will be shortly followed by the arrival of 2020 AD, which will zip past Earth at 4:12 am EST from 00.598 astronomical units or almost 556,000 miles away.

As for 2019 YH2, this asteroid will arrive at 4:36 am EST. During this time, it will be about 0.01890 astronomical units or about 1.8 million miles away. 2019 AE3, on the other hand, will approach the planet at 9:08 am EST from a distance of 0.01246 astronomical units or 1.2 million miles away.   

asteroids_passing_earth Pictured; an artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth. Photo: NASA