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Huge asteroid to pass Earth on Christmas Eve

by Brandon Russell | December 20, 2015December 20, 2015 9:00 am PDT

2003-SD220-arecibo

Is this what it’s come to? An asteroid to coincide with major holidays? What is the universe trying to tell us?

A large asteroid, known as Asteroid 163899 (but we’ll call it Christmas asteroid), is going to approach and pass Earth on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24). Don’t worry: it’ll pass at a safe distance—about 28 times the Earth-moon distance—which means Santa will be safe to make his worldwide journey in time for Christmas morning.

The Christmas asteroid follows in the footsteps of that Halloween asteroid back in October.

The difference between the Christmas asteroid and the Halloween asteroid, however, is that scientists have known about the Christmas asteroid for a while now; it’s been on our radar since 2003, so the imminent drive-by has been a long time coming.

Just because it doesn’t provide any imminent danger to Earth doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting. Scientists are taking particular notice of the Christmas asteroid because of its immense size; it’s about 1.25 miles long, and completes its slow full rotation about once a week. Unfortunately, casual stargazers probably won’t be able to see the asteroid as it zips by – it’s simply too far.

If you happen to miss the Christmas asteroid, scientists say it’ll actually pass Earth again some time in 2018.

EarthSky

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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