Asteroid That Could Be 3 Times As Tall Statue of Liberty to Pass Earth on Fall Equinox 2021

As the Fall Equinox occurs on Wednesday an asteroid estimated to be up to three times the size of the Statue of Liberty will zip past Earth.

According to NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) the asteroid 2021 NY1, which could be as wide as 984 feet, will pass our planet within a distance of 93,000 miles.

The asteroid, up to three times the size of Lady Liberty, will be traveling at a speed of around six miles per second as it passes our planet. That is around 21,000 miles per hour or about 27 times the speed of sound.

According to Sky Live, which tracks asteroids and space objects and their orbits, this will be 2021 NY1's closest approach to Earth for at least a decade.

The asteroid 2021 NY1 won't be alone in paying Earth's vicinity a flying visit during the period of the Fall Equinox.

On Tuesday, the smaller asteroid 2021 RX9, estimated to be as wide as the Pyramid of Giza is tall (128 feet), will shoot past our planet at a dizzying speed of 33,000 miles per hour. That's around 16 times as fast as a bullet fired by a rifle.

This asteroid won't come as close to the Earth, however, passing within a distance of around 1.8 million miles.

On Friday, the asteroid 2021 QV6 will also skim Earth. This asteroid is estimated to be as wide as 525 feet, that's just a touch smaller than the Washington Monument. This asteroid will pass at a wider distance still, around 2.2 million miles.

All these asteroids are classified by NASA as Near Earth Objects or NEOs. NEOs are considered to be asteroids or comets that have orbits that bring them to within around 121 million miles of Earth. To be classified in this way, a space object also has to complete an orbit of the Sun in a period no longer than 200 years.

CNEOS has now been discovering and tracking NEOs for around 23 years. Its mission really began in 1998 when a mile-wide asteroid, 1997 XF11, was found to have a trajectory that could cause it to hit Earth in 2028.

Since the late '90s, the team has discovered over 25,000 NEOs. Of these, they have identified a sub-category of Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs). These are defined as asteroids that threaten to make dangerously close approaches to our planet.

For many years, the asteroid 99942 Apophis, with an 1100-feet diameter, about the size of the Empire State Building, sat at the top of most lists of the most threatening PHOs. That was until a CNEOS team discovered earlier this year that Earth is safe from an impact by Apophis for at least the next century.

Whilst these asteroids passing Earth won't be visible with the naked eye, Apophis' next "fly-by" in April 2029 will be so close at 20,000 miles from Earth, closer than most geostationary satellites, that it will be visible without the aid of a telescope.

Asteroid
A stock illustration of an asteroid as it passes Earth. Several asteroids will pay a flying visit to our planet over the Fall equinox period, including one three times the size of the Statue of liberty. dottedhippo/Getty