An asteroid is due to pass the Earth on Wednesday, flying by at a distance a little more than that of the moon’s orbit.
The asteroid, named 2023 HV5, is forecast by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) to pass by the Earth at a distance of 1.1 lunar distances, or 1.1 times the distance between the Earth and moon.
The moon is around 238,900 miles away from us, meaning that 1.1 lunar distances is equivalent to about 262,790 miles. This may sound like a gargantuan distance on a human scale, but in terms of even the distances in our solar system, this will be a close miss. Venus, our nearest planetary neighbor, only comes as close to us as 38 million miles away at its closest point.
The solar system is full of asteroids, which are defined as small chunks of rock orbiting the sun, often left over from the formation of the planets. NASA estimates there are over 1,100,000 asteroids in our solar system, with more being discovered every year.
Asteroids are ‘bits of a planet that didn’t happen’ that orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter in the Main Asteroid Belt. However, as they are relatively small, asteroids can be disturbed quite easily, so they can develop orbits that cross those of planets,” Jay Tate, the director of the Spaceguard Center observatory in the U.K., previously told Newsweek.
Asteroids come flying past the Earth and other inner solar system objects because of interactions with Jupiter, sending them careening out of their usual orbits.