Three Huge Asteroids To Pass Earth in Last Days of 2021, Including One That's 850 Feet Wide

Three large asteroids are set to zoom safely past Earth in the last days of 2021, including one that could be as large as 850 feet wide.

The first of three asteroids to make a close approach is called 2016 TR54 and is scheduled to fly past our planet on December 24, according to NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

This space rock will come closest to the Earth at 6:30 a.m. UTC which translates to 1:30 a.m. ET, or 10:30 p.m. the day before for those living on the U.S. West Coast.

At its closest, the asteroid is expected to come within around four million miles of our planet, or nearly 17 times the average distance between the Earth and the moon.

The CNEOS estimates that the asteroid measures between 328 and 754 feet in diameter based on its observed magnitude.

At the time of its close approach, the object will be traveling at around 34,700 miles per hour, which is about one-fifth as fast as a bolt of lightning.

The second asteroid set to make a close approach to the Earth towards the end of December, dubbed 2018 AH, is slightly smaller, with CNEOS figures indicating that it measures anywhere between 275 feet and 623 feet in diameter.

2018 AH is expected to make its closest approach at 2:40 p.m. UTC, or 9:40 a.m. ET, on December 27, at which point the CNEOS estimates it could come as close as 622,800 miles. This is just over double the average distance between the Earth and the moon.

However, the estimates for this object's trajectory are more uncertain than the ones for 2016 TR54 and it is possible that 2018 AH's will come no closer than 2.8 million miles away.

At the time of 2018 AH's close approach, the object will be traveling at around 28,400 miles per hour, CNEOS figures show.

The last of the three asteroids, known as 2017 AE3, is potentially the largest of the three, with the CNEOS estimating that it could measure anywhere between 393 feet and 853 feet in diameter.

At the upper limit of this estimate, the asteroid would stand slightly taller than San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, if the two were placed side by side.

2017 AE3 is scheduled to make its closest approach at 1:54 a.m. UTC on December 29, or 8:54 p.m. on December 28, ET.

At this point it could come as close as roughly 1.9 million miles to our planet. It will be traveling at a speed of around 42,600 miles per hour—the fastest of the three asteroids.

An asteroid
Stock image showing an asteroid. Three large asteroids are set to zoom past Earth in the last days of 2021. iStock