A giant rock detected by NASA last week will skim the Earth TONIGHT

AN ASTEROID first found barreling towards our planet last week will shoot past Earth in just a few hours, space agency NASA has confirmed.

AN ASTEROID first found barreling towards our planet last week will shoot past Earth in just a few hours, space agency NASA has confirmed.

NASA predicts the asteroid will close in on Earth’s location tonight (December 24) in the early evening hours. The asteroid, dubbed 2019 YU, is headed our way at speeds of more than 36,600mph (58,900km/h).

AN ASTEROID first found barreling towards our planet last week will shoot past Earth in just a few hours, space agency NASA has confirmed.

NASA predicts the asteroid will close in on Earth’s location tonight (December 24) in the early evening hours. The asteroid, dubbed 2019 YU, is headed our way at speeds of more than 36,600mph (58,900km/h).

At this rate, NASA predicts 2019 YU will approach Earth around 8.14pm GMT (3.14pm EST).

The news comes just five days after NASA’s tracking systems first spotted the rock on December 19.

Asteroid YU is a so-called Near-Earth Object or NEO, racing around the Sun in the inner confines of the solar system.

NEOs often follow paths that cross Earth’s orbit and occasionally will come close to our homeworld.

NASA predicts the asteroid will close in on Earth’s location tonight (December 24) in the early evening hours. The asteroid, dubbed 2019 YU, is headed our way at speeds of more than 36,600mph (58,900km/h).

At this rate, NASA predicts 2019 YU will approach Earth around 8.14pm GMT (3.14pm EST).

The news comes just five days after NASA’s tracking systems first spotted the rock on December 19.

Asteroid YU is a so-called Near-Earth Object or NEO, racing around the Sun in the inner confines of the solar system.

NEOs often follow paths that cross Earth’s orbit and occasionally will come close to our homeworld.PROMOTED STORY

Asteroid warning: A large rock will shot past Earth on Christmas Eve, December 24 (Image: GETTY)

Asteroid warning: For space rocks a slim chance of striking Earth (Image: GETTY)

Tonight, NASA expects Asteroid YU to swing past Earth on a “close approach” trajectory.

NASA said: “Near-Earth Objects are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.

“Composed mostly of water ice with embedded dust particles, comets originally formed in the cold outer planetary system while most of the rocky asteroids formed in the warmer inner solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.”

NASA’s observations of the asteroid suggest the rock measures somewhere in the range of 203ft to 459ft (62m to 140m) across.

Asteroids bigger than 459ft (140m) in diameter are sometimes dubbed potentially hazardous if NASA determines there is a chance of impact.

NEOs can occasionally approach close to Earth

NASA

Thankfully, Asteroid YU does not pose a threat to Earth tonight but if it ever struck the planet, the impact could be catastrophic.

At the upper end of NASA’s size estimate, the asteroid stands taller than the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

At the lower end of NASA’s estimate, the rock is taller than the leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.

A single astronomical unite measures about 93 million miles (149.6 million km), which is the distance from our planet to the Sun.

Asteroid YU will cut this down to just 4.64 million miles (7.47 million km).

In other words, the space rock will miss Earth by about 19.43 times the distance to the Moon.

After tonight’s flyby, Asteroid YU is not expected to visit Earth again.

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