Four Asteroids to Zip Past Earth on Thanksgiving, With One Bigger Than a Football Field

Four asteroids will make their close approaches to Earth on Thursday, coinciding with Thanksgiving.

The largest of the four space rocks is the asteroid 2009 WB105 with an estimated diameter of 120 meters, a little longer than a football field.

The asteroid will pass Earth at a speed of about 18,900 meters per second, or about 42,000 miles per hour. To put that into perspective, current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady recorded in 2019 his throwing speed at 61 mph, or about 27 meters per second.

That means that 2009 WB105 will be traveling about 689 times as fast as the ball thrown by Brady, who was 41 and playing for the New England Patriots when he recorded his throwing speed with a radar device.

If a player could throw a football as fast as 2009 WB105 will be moving it would travel from goal post to goal post in just 0.006 of a second.

In fact, traveling at this speed, in the four seconds it would take Brady's ball to cover the length of the field this hypervelocity ball would have traveled the entire 446,000-meter length of the Grand Canyon and made it half the way back.

The three companions of 2009 WB105 won't be as big or traveling quite as fast. The asteroid 2021 VR4 has an estimated diameter of up to 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) and will pass Earth at around 17,224 miles per hour, about nine times as fast as a bullet fired by a rifle.

The 27-meter diameter asteroid 2019 BB5 will be traveling at almost 19,000 miles per hour when it passes Earth on November 25. While the smallest of Earth's four Thanksgiving visitors, 2021 VF11, with a diameter of just 23 meters, will pass Earth at a comparatively leisurely pace of 2,930 mph, or 1,310 meters (nearly 4,300 feet) per second.

That's still fast enough to cover 48 football fields in the time it takes Brady's undoubtedly impressively rapid thrown ball to traverse one football field.

In terms of distances from Earth, 2021 VR4 will come the closest to our planet passing with just half a million miles. The largest and fastest asteroid, 2009 WB105 will be much farther out passing within 3.6 million miles of Earth.

According to NASA, both asteroids 2009 WB105 and 2019 BB5 will return to the region of space around Earth in the first half of next year. The former will return first on April 2, and the latter will follow making its next close approach to Earth a month later on May 3.

Asteroid 2021 VR4 will next pass Earth in October 2023, but the fourth asteroid, 2019 BB5 won't return until December 4, 2024.

Four asteroids approach earth
Stock image of four asteroids approaching Earth. Our planet will be passed by four asteroids over Thanksgiving. dzika_mrowka/ dottedhippo/Getty