Asteroid bigger than any building on Earth to be visible in Norfolk skies

TV astronomer Mark Thompson PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Norwich astronomer Mark Thompson says stargazers will be able to see the asteroid flying past Earth this week. - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

An asteroid bigger than any building on Earth will be visible to keen stargazers this week.

Asteroid (7482) 1994 PCI is more than a kilometre wide at 1,052m and will soar close to the Earth on Tuesday, January 18.

The size means it is bigger than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which at 830m, is the world’s tallest building.

Norwich astronomer and broadcaster Mark Thompson said the asteroid is nothing to worry about.

Mr Thompson said: "The asteroid's closest approach to Earth will be 1.9 million miles on Tuesday night at about 9.50pm, so further than the moon.

"There is no danger of this asteroid hitting us and we’ve seen asteroids that have been much closer.

"A couple years ago one passed between us and the moon but because we are able to predict the flight paths, we know they are nothing to worry about."

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Stargazers hoping to spot the asteroid as it passes will need a telescope of at least six inches in diameter according to Mr Thompson.

Norfolk astronomer and TV presenter Mark Thompson is getting ready to attempt to break the record fo

Mr Thompson says we currently have no way of stopping an asteroid hitting us. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

While not set to hit the Earth, if the asteroid were to change course it would not cause the "annihilation of the human race".

The astronomer added: "It could cause city-wide devastation if it did hit us and statistically, we are overdue for an asteroid impact.

"Currently there are none we know of set to hit us, but there will be one day and if it was a dinosaur-extinction level threat, we have no way to stop it.

"There is an ongoing mission to an asteroid in the outer solar system to see if a small amount of explosives is enough to alter an asteroid's path.

"A small nudge over a great distance may be enough to deflect a threat from Earth's path."

Asteroid (7482) 1994 PC1 was discovered by Robert McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia on August 9, 1994.

Nasa’s Asteroid Watch Twitter account posted: “Near-Earth asteroid 1994 PC1 is very well known and has been studied for decades by our planetary defense experts.

“Rest assured, 1994 PC1 will safely fly past our planet 1.2 million miles away next Tuesday, January 18.”