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Asteroid the size of Empire State Building to make ‘close’ encounter with Earth

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Massive asteroids — including one the size of the Empire State Building — are predicted to make “close” encounters with Earth in the coming weeks, with one set to whiz by as early as Wednesday night.

The space rock “2004 UE,” which at 1,246 feet is only a few feet shorter than the Midtown skyscraper, will be 2.6 million miles away on Nov. 13.

Of the asteroids headed our way, “1996 VB3” — which has a diameter of about 750 feet — is expected to come closest to Earth, at a distance of only 2.1 million miles, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Objects.

The distance is close compared to our nearest neighbor Venus, which is 70 million miles away. It’s expected to whiz by at a speed of roughly 9 million miles per second. 

The asteroid’s appearance will follow that of space rock 2021 SM3, which was reported to zoom past Earth on Friday from 3.5 million miles away. 

The space rock, which was just discovered last month, has a diameter of up to 525 feet, larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza. 

According to NASA, several asteroids including one the size of the Empire State Building are expected to have a "close encounter" with Earth in the coming weeks.
According to NASA, several asteroids including one the size of the Empire State Building are expected to have a “close encounter” with Earth in the coming weeks.
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The center classifies a near-earth object as a body that comes “within 120 million miles of Earth.”

These are asteroids or comets that have “been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood,” according to NASA. 

And while the size and speed of these giant space rocks could theoretically cause catastrophic damage if they were to hit Earth, you won’t need to prepare for armageddon just yet, experts say.

While the asteroids are approaching at a relatively close distance, Paul Chodas, the director of the CNEOS at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, says they are still too far to pose a threat. 

Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are expecting close to about seven asteroids to come close to Earth.
Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are expecting close to about seven asteroids to come close to Earth.
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“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,” he told ABC News.

The center is expecting seven asteroids to pass near Earth in the coming weeks.

“2004 UE” will be followed by an asteroid, 2016 JG12, which is predicted to fly by 3.4 million miles away from the planet a week later. 

The largest asteroid to travel near Earth this year is “2001 FO32,” also known as Apophis, the “God of Chaos,” which zoomed by in March. It was estimated to have a diameter of 1,100 feet.

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