USA

Asteroid the size of the Empire State Building headed our way

Imagine Yankee Stadium or Citi Field cruising by Earth in a giant foul-ball flyby.

That’s what’s set to happen this weekend when an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building tumbles through space uncomfortably close — but not close enough to hurt.

An asteroid between 820 and 1,870 feet in diameter — a few hundred feet longer than the 1,400-foot-tall iconic skyscraper that’s an emblem of New York City — will cruise past us on Saturday, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which monitors such things.

A NASA spokesperson assured CBS News that the space rock won’t hit us.

NASA’s Center for Earth Object Studies website monitors close approaches to Earth. Asteroid 2002 NN4 is just one of several objects due to pass near us this week, noted CBS News.

For those who are still worried, there’s an app for that. Or at least a widget. It tracks any object that approaches within 4.6 million miles of Earth. To give us a sense of scale, the widget lists a comparably-sized object next to the measurements of each asteroid.

This chunk of rock will miss us by about 3 million miles, NASA told USA Today — 13 times the distance between the Earth and the moon. By way of comparison, the moon is about 250,000 miles away at its farthest point.

Luckily this will keep its distance, NASA said, because it’s cruising along at 20,000 mph. If it were to hit us, it would inflict catastrophic damage, Florida Gulf Coast University physics professor Derek Buzasi told USA Today. He added that it’s bigger than about 90% of asteroids, and about the size of a football stadium.

“In short, 2002 NN4 is a very well-known asteroid with a known orbit that will pass Earth at a (very) safe distance,” Ian J. O’Neill of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory told USA Today.

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