Massive Asteroid the Size of Chrysler Building to Pass Earth Today

A huge asteroid will zoom past Earth today, data from NASA's Center for Near Earth Studies (CNEOS) shows.

The space rock, dubbed 2016 CL136, is set to make its closest approach to our planet at 5:26 p.m. on February 1, according to CNEOS.

Based on its observed magnitude, astronomers estimate that the asteroid could measure anywhere between around 460 feet and 1,017 feet in diameter.

At the upper end of this estimate, the space rock would be around the same size as the Chrysler Building in New York City or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

At the lower end of the estimate, 2016 CL136 would be roughly the same size as the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

During its close approach, the asteroid will come within around 3.3 million miles of the Earth. While this may sound far away, it is actually a relatively small distance in astronomical terms.

To put the close approach into context, the asteroid will pass our planet at around 14 times the average distance between the Earth and the moon.

During this flyby, 2016 CL136 will be traveling at a staggering speed of roughly 40,400 miles per hour, which is around 20 times faster than a rifle bullet, 55 times faster than the speed of sound, and around one-fifth as fast a bolt of lightning.

Astronomers know the trajectory of this object well, and projections show it has no chance of striking Earth in the foreseeable future.

If an object the size of 2016 CL136 were to strike the Earth, it would likely cause widespread devastation on a regional scale.

2016 CL136 is one of numerous "near-Earth objects" or NEOs that are in orbit around the sun. This group of objects includes any asteroid or comet that can pass within 30 million miles of Earth's own orbital path.

Astronomers have identified around 25,000 NEOs to date, the vast majority of which are asteroids.

According to NASA, none of these have a significant risk of striking the Earth in the next century or so.

Coincidentally, 2016 CL136 is not the only large asteroid scheduled to fly past the Earth on February 1.

Earlier today, the space rock 2020 TB12 made a close approach, coming within around 1.6 million miles of our planet at 12:50 a.m. ET.

This asteroid is likely smaller than 2016 CL136, measuring between 360 feet and 787 feet in diameter, according to CNEOS estimates.

An asteroid
Stock image showing an artist's rendering of an asteroid. A space rock dubbed 2016 CL136 is set to make a close approach to our planet on February 1. iStock