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Huge Asteroid Expected To Pass Near Earth

The asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, but can be seen with a small telescope or strong binoculars.

Posted on January 26, 2015, at 9:57 a.m. ET

A massive asteroid the size of five football fields is expected to pass safely near Earth.

According to NASA, the asteroid, designated 2004 BL86, will pass about three times the distance of Earth to the moon, or 745,000 miles, on Monday at approximately 11:19 a.m. ET.

"Monday, January 26, will be the closest asteroid 2004 BL86 will get to Earth for at least the next 200 years," said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "And while it poses no threat to Earth for the foreseeable future, it's a relatively close approach by a relatively large asteroid, so it provides us a unique opportunity to observe and learn more."

The asteroid was first discovered in January 2004. It will not be visible to the naked eye but can be seen through a telescope or strong binoculars in the Americas, Europe, and Africa.

"I may grab my favorite binoculars and give it a shot myself," Yeomans said. "Asteroids are something special. Not only did asteroids provide Earth with the building blocks of life and much of its water, but in the future, they will become valuable resources for mineral ores and other vital natural resources."

The next time an asteroid might be passing Earth will be in 2027.