Asteroids and comets come in the vicinity of Earth quite frequently, but are usually too small to cause any harm. Acting as an exception, the Asteroid 2019 GC6 will pass by the Earth on April 18, at a distance of roughly 1,36,000 miles. While that is a safe enough distance to not cause any damage, it is actually closer than what the moon is to the Earth.
Asteroid GC6 is estimated to be 42-92 feet in diameter, which is equivalent to the size of a small building. It will fly past at a speed of 3.5 miles per second, about 2,20,000 km away from Earth. It will be harmless this time, but that could change in the future, with NASA estimating a collision in the next 100 years.
It was spotted by astronomers at the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona. Scientists over at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have placed it on the list of asteroids that can potentially hit Earth over the next century. Even a small asteroid crash around an area of civilization can have dire effects, like the one from 2013 which exploded near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, adding tons of radioactive material into the Earth’s atmosphere. This 20m wide asteroid impacted over 1,500 lives in its vicinity, with an impact 30 times higher than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.
Studying its speed and current orbital trajectory, the GC6 is expected to pass by Earth again in 2034, 2041 and 2048. For reference, one lunar distance is equal to 3,84,400 km which is the average distance between our Earth and the Moon. It’s going to be very difficult to spot inherently because of the distance from us, a dark colour and no tail (only comets have those).