When Will the Giant Asteroid Pass Earth Next Week? Here's How to See the Phenomenon

A large asteroid spanning more than double the height of New York City's Empire State Building will be making one of its closest known passes by Earth next week.

Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the sun and are much smaller in size than planets.

The asteroidknown as 7482 (1994 PC1)—will shoot past Earth and won't come as close again to our planet for decades.

While the huge space rock is classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) due to its size, it poses no threat to Earth.

When Will the Giant Asteroid Pass Earth?

The asteroid will pass Earth on Tuesday, January 18. Its diameter is estimated to be around one kilometer or 3,280 feet, according to CNEOS, which amounts to around 2.5 times the height of the Empire State Building.

While this passing is technically a "close approach," according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the asteroid is expected to pass at a distance of 0.013 astronomical units, which is equivalent to around 1.2 million miles. This distance is more than five times as far away from Earth as the moon is.

How to See the Giant Asteroid Next Week

The asteroid can be spotted with a telescope pointed at a star near the location of the large space rock.

Observers can use a computerized telescope to detect the asteroid by pointing the device at the reference star HIP 8210. The space rock will appear as a "slowly moving star" in front of the stars, according to the EarthSky website.

For observers in North America, those with "backyard telescopes have the best opportunity to see the asteroid hours after the January 18 close approach," the website advises.

Thanks to the space rock's size and proximity, observers should be able to detect its motion.

"When the asteroid is passing close to fixed background stars, the movement will be more noticeable," EarthSky notes.

Where Do Asteroids Come From?

Asteroids are the remains from the formation of our solar system, which began about 4.6 billion years ago when a big cloud of gas and dust collapsed. This saw most of the material fall to the center of the cloud and formed the sun, while some of the condensing dust in the cloud formed into planets.

According to NASA: "The objects in the asteroid belt never had the chance to be incorporated into planets. They are leftovers from that time long ago when planets formed."

Most asteroids are found in the main asteroid belt, which is an area between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter.

Some asteroids are also found in the orbital path of planets, such as Earth, meaning the asteroid and the planet follow the same path around the sun, NASA explains.

A view of asteroid 243 Ida.
A view of asteroid 243 Ida and its moon. A giant asteroid will pass Earth on January 18. Observers can spot it by pointing a computerized telescope at a reference star near the huge space rock. © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Image