One of the Largest Asteroids of 2022 Set To Zip Past the Earth This Month

A large asteroid that is among the biggest to make a close approach to the Earth this year is set to zip past our planet later this month.

Data from NASA's Center for Near Earth Studies (CNEOS) shows that the space rock, dubbed 418135 (2008 AG33), will make a close approach to the Earth toward the end of April.

At 2:46 a.m. UTC on April 28, or 10:46 p.m. EDT on April 27, the asteroid will come within around two million miles of our planet—a relatively close shave in astronomical terms, albeit one in which there is no risk of a collision with the Earth.

This is fortunate because 2008 AG33 is among the largest asteroids that will make a close approach to our planet this year.

According to CNEOS, 2008 AG33 is estimated to measure between 330 meters and 740 meters (1,083 feet and 2,428 feet) in diameter based on its observable magnitude.

If the upper estimate is true, the asteroid would be almost double the height of the Empire State Building in New York City, or nearly the same height as the the world's tallest building—the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Even at the lower end of the size estimate, the asteroid would still stand taller than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The largest asteroid to make a close approach to the Earth this year, according to CNEOS data, will be 7335 (1989 JA), which is estimated to measure 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) across. This space rock will safely zip past our planet toward the end of May.

Aside from its huge size, 2008 AG33 is also traveling at staggering speeds. CNEOS figures show that at the time of its close approach, 2008 AG33 will be moving at roughly 23,200 miles per hour. This is roughly eleven-and-half times faster than a rifle bullet.

According to CNEOS, more than 28,000 near-Earth objects or NEOs, have been identified to date. The vast majority of these are asteroids, although there are a handful of comets.

Some of these NEOs, such as 2008 AG33, are classified as "potentially hazardous," meaning they have orbits that come within 4.6 million miles of Earth's own path around the sun, while also measuring more than 140 meters in diameter.

CNEOS director Paul Chodas has previously told Newsweek that objects are classified as potentially hazardous because they are in orbits that "come close enough to Earth's that it is possible over many centuries and millennia they might evolve into Earth-crossing orbits. So it is prudent to keep tracking these asteroids for decades to come and to study how their orbits might be evolving."

An asteroid
Stock image showing an artist's illustration of an asteroid in space. A large asteroid that is among the biggest to make a close approach to the Earth this year is set to zip past our planet later this month. iStock