A huge asteroid that has been eloquently nicknamed the “Beast” will get perilously close to Earth in the morning of Sunday, June 8. Asteroid 2014 HQ124 is larger than a football field but does not threaten our planet, according to the calculations of astronomers, as it will pass at a distance of about 1.15 million km from Earth, which is almost three times the Earth-Moon distance.
The huge asteroid with a diameter of about 350 meters was discovered in April this year by the infrared space telescope WISE. The giant rock traveling at a speed of 14 kilometers per second will reach its closest point from Earth at about 9 am this Sunday (GMT).
Astronomers pointed out the fact that the existence of such a giant asteroid was unknown until now and had been noticed just two months before it passed relatively close to Earth. This is another reminder of the dangers that threaten our planet at any time and moment.
“HQ124 is at least 10 times bigger, and possibly 20 times, than the asteroid that injured a thousand people last year in Chelyabinsk, Siberia,” Berman said in a statement. “If it were [to] impact us, the energy released would be measured not in kilotons like the atomic bombs that ended World War II, but in H-bomb type megatons,” said Bob Berman of the astronomical observatory Slooh.
NASA believes it has discovered more than 90% of mountain-sized asteroids or other celestial bodies with a diameter greater than a kilometer that are close to Earth. Such a huge rock, if it ever falls on our planet, would cause incalculable damage.
Smaller asteroids are more difficult to identify. It is estimated that around 15,000 asteroids of about 140 meters in diameter hit the Earth at times and only 30% of these has been found. Regarding even smaller ones, with a diameter of less than 30 meters, there are over one million of them approaching our planet and less than 1% has been detected.