Christmas Eve Asteroid To Fly By Earth

First Posted: Dec 16, 2015 10:05 AM EST

Watch out for an asteroid on Christmas Eve! Astronomers announced that a massive asteroid is heading towards the Earth and moon on the night before Christmas, which will be the perfect opportunity for radar observations.

The space rock was identified as Asteroid 163899, also known as 2003 SD220, which will pass closest to the Earth, but at a safe distance of about 6,787,600 miles (11 million km) away from the surface, according to a news release. Asteroid 163899 will pass at a safe distance, thus no one needs to worry about earthquakes or the Earth being grazed by an enormous space rock. Even if Asteroid 163899 did pass at a close distance, there isn't much scientific data that indicates seismic or earthquake activities to passing by asteroids, except if it clashes with the earth, which is not the case, according to researchers.

The space between the asteroid and the Earth is 28 times the distance between the moon and the Earth. Since the asteroid is quite distant, professional and advanced astronomers are likely the only ones who will capture optical images of the asteroid.

The asteroid 2003 SD220 is no stranger to astronomers, its name basically gives it way. 2003 SD220 was discovered in September 2003 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search (LONEOS) program in Flagstaff, Ariz. Asteroid 163899 is approximately 1.25 miles (2 km) in length and it has a slow rotation of a week.

Even though 2003 SD220 is quite massive, it does not pose danger of future collisions. NASA confirmed that the space rock will not pass at any close distance for another two centuries. 

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