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Asteroid larger than three Salesforce buildings to fly close to Earth

A giant space rock, Asteroid 7482, is set to zoom safely at Earth on Tuesday.

While people will not be able to catch a glimpse of the asteroid with the naked eye, scientists at the Chabot Science Center in Oakland are looking to take pictures and video if the sky is clear.

Gerald McKeegan, an adjunct astronomer at the Science Center, said he hopes Chabot can post photos and video on social media. Amateur astronomers can spot the asteroid with a backyard telescope hours after the near approach in the evening (get tips from Earth Sky).

The asteroid will come closest at around 1 p.m. 13:51 PST, and comes within 1.23 million miles of Earth, according to a table from the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), led by NASA at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. It's a little more than five times the distance to the Moon. The asteroid will move at a speed of almost 12 miles per second

Asteroid 7482 is approximately 3,470 feet wide - which is more than three times the height of San Francisco's Salesforce building. By comparison, the asteroid believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs was over 32,000 feet wide, McKeegan said.

You do not have to worry about facing the scenario in the new Netflix comedy "Don't Look Up", with two astronomers discovering that a comet is heading directly towards Earth. Although 7482 is still large and will come close to Earth, McKeegan said that "there is no risk of affecting this or any future dense approaches for at least 200 years."

Astronomer Robert McNaught, from the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, first discovered Asteroid 7482, originally designated 1994 PC1, in August 1994.

"It is thought to be composed mostly of silicate rocks," McKeegan said, "and may originally come from the inner part of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter."

In the event that a terrestrial asteroid is detected in the future, NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is expected to deliberately crash into a near-Earth asteroid in September to test technology to deflect asteroids out of orbit. DART's test targets are not a threat to Earth, NASA said.

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