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TX68

An asteroid is going to swoop uncomfortably close to Earth

Before you panic: no, it’s not going to hit us — though it’s going to come tantalisingly close.

SKY WATCHERS TAKE note: An asteroid is going to shoot across the sky on 5 March — and it may come close enough that you can actually see it with a telescope.

Before you panic: no, it’s not going to hit us — though it’s going to come tantalisingly close.

The rock in question is asteroid 2013 TX68, which swooped by Earth at a safe 1.3 million miles away two years ago. It is now slated to fly by our planet again in a few weeks as it’s been locked in an orbit around the sun — though this time it may come much, much closer to Earth.

How close? That’s hard to say, given that we’ve only had a limited time to track this rocky space object since we discovered it back in October 2013.

asteroid earth drawing Shutterstock Shutterstock

And while Nasa isn’t quite sure of the rock’s trajectory — it could swing as close as 11,000 miles (17,700km) from Earth or as far as nine million miles (14.5 million km) away — they say ”there is no possibility” that it will impact Earth this time around.

That’s great, for now.

Asteroid 2013 TX68 — which measures about 100 feet in diameter, the size of an airplane — is slated to pay us another visit on 28 September 2017. At that time, Nasa predicts, there is in fact a chance it could hit us.

Though the chance is small — about one in 250 million — the same odds of being killed by a falling coconut.

Here is a graphical representation of the potential paths asteroid 2013 TX68 could take at the time of its closest approach on 5 March. At its furthest, it could speed by at a distant nine million miles away, which you can see on the left of the graphic. This would be too far away to see with a telescope.

asteroid_2013tx68_graphic Nasa Nasa

But if it does come within 11,000 miles of Earth, as sketched out on the right side of the graphic, avid skywatchers just may be able to check out this speedy piece of space debris.

Asteroid fly-bys happen all the time. If you’re curious about the stats on all of them, check out Nasa’s Near Earth Object Programme page here.

- Julia Calderone, Tech Insider

Read: Check out these incredible photos of the solar system

Read: It looks like there could be a ninth planet in our solar system

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