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Daily Record

NASA says asteroid taller than Empire State Building to pass by Earth this weekend

A hefty asteroid bigger than the Empire State Building is whizzing by the Earth this weekend.

It is classified by NASA as a 'Potentially Hazardous Asteroid' because of its relative proximity to Earth despite being quite a distance away.

The asteroid called 388945 (2008 TZ3) will fly past on Sunday, May 15 as part of its orbit around the sun which involves passing by the Earth every 732 days.

Two years ago, it hurtled by within 2.75 million kilometres of our planet, but this time it is expected to be around four million kilometres away.

Compared to the vastness of space, Potentially Hazardous Asteroids are only relatively close to our planet, said Paul Chodas, director of the CNEOS at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California.

He said ABC News: "Astronomically, these are coming close to the Earth. But in human terms, they are millions of miles away and can get no closer than millions of miles away."

The asteroid is 490m at its widest - taller than the Empire State Building (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The 388945 is designated an Apollo-class asteroid, meaning its orbit crosses that of the Earth, which happens about every two years.

The rock last passed the planet in May 2020 and its next flyby after this weekend will be May 2024.

It is 490m at its widest - taller than the Empire State Building (443m) and the Eiffel Tower (300m).

Its size, which is 'very roughly' comparable to an American football field, is considered a small to average asteroid, according to Space Reference.

The size of asteroids varies widely and Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, was actually reclassified from an asteroid to a dwarf planet by scientists in 2006.

The largest rock to ever pass by Earth is 3122 Florence (1981 ET3) - an asteroid so large it has two moons. It flew by the Earth seven million kilometres away back in September 2017.

It comes after the first picture of the supermassive black hole at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy was taken by astronomers in a major announcement on Thursday.

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