Asteroid To Hit Earth’s Atmosphere In A Few Hours

Credit: Alamy

A huge asteroid is set to hit Earth’s atmosphere very soon.

The space rock, known as 2023 BU, will zoom over South America in the next few hours.

Its closest expected approach is 2,200 miles (3,600km) – which counts as a close shave.

Experts at NASA say it is the closest an asteroid will come for the next 200 years.

Find out more about the asteroid below…

Asteroids are big chunks of rock which float through space and orbit the Sun.

Asteroid 2023 BU was discovered earlier this month and will be the fourth-nearest space rock to come close to our planet.

It is predicted to hit Earth’s atmosphere on January 27 at around 12.30am GMT or 10.30am ACT.

If you’re in the US, that’s 7.30pm ET, 6.30pm CST or 4.30pm PT on January 26.

Asteroid 2023 BU is about the size of a minibus and thankfully it does not pose any threat.

The space rock will fly past Earth at 33,000mph.

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Thanks to the Virtual Telescope Project, anyone interested will be able to spot Asteroid 2023 BU shoot past our skies.

The VTP is a set of robotic telescopes based in Ceccano, Italy, that are accessible online, and will be set up for you to watch this astronomical experience wherever you like.

VTP’s live feed of the asteroid will start on January 26 at 7.15pm UTC.

This will be the only way to spot the asteroid as it is too small to be seen in the sky with the naked eye.

Even if 2023 BU was on a direct collision course, it would struggle to do much damage.

Asteroid 2023 BU is set to hit Earth’s atmosphere very soon. Credit: Alamy

With an estimated size of 3.5m to 8.5m across (11.5ft to 28ft), it would likely disintegrate high in the atmosphere – but would produce a spectacular fireball.

For comparison, the famous Chelyabinsk meteor that entered Earth’s atmosphere in 2013 was 20m (66ft) across.

That produced a big shockwave that shattered windows on the ground in Russia.

Speaking about the situation, Professor Don Pollacco told BBC News: “There are still asteroids that cross the Earth’s orbit waiting to be discovered.

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“2023 BU is a recently discovered object supposedly the size of a small bus which must have passed by the Earth thousands of times before.

“This time it passes by only 2,200 miles from the Earth – just 1% of the distance to the moon – a celestial near miss.

“Depending on what 2023 BU is composed of it is unlikely to ever reach the Earth’s surface but instead burn up in the atmosphere as a brilliant fireball – brighter than a full moon.

“However, there are likely many asteroids out there that remain undiscovered that could penetrate the atmosphere and hit the surface to cause significant damage.

“Indeed many scientists think we could be due such an event.”

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Written by Rosario Monachino

Rosario is a content editor at IGV who specialises in film, TV and entertainment news. He has a degree in English and Film from the University of Salford and a masters in Journalism from Liverpool John Moores University.