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When and how to watch – NECN

A massive and "potentially dangerous" asteroid is set to whiz off Earth on Tuesday, traveling at over 43,000 miles per hour.

The kilometer-wide asteroid, called 1994 PC1 (7482), is approximately the length of 10 football fields. And although it is classified as dangerous because of its large size and relatively close bypass, NASA said "rest assured" that the 1994 PC1 will surely pass Earth 1.2 million miles away.

However, it is close enough that sky viewers with amateur telescopes can easily get a glimpse of 1994 PC1. EarthySky.com has released a series of "finder maps" for the asteroid that map its course on January 18 and map nearby markers to help locate the 1994 PC1.

The asteroid will come closest to Earth on January 18 at 16:51 EST, according to NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. 1994 PC1 is not expected to get that close to Earth again until January 2105.

Italy's virtual telescope project will host a livestream of the asteroid's close encounter with Earth, beginning at 1 p.m. 15 ET.

First discovered on August 9, 1994 by astronomer Robert McNaught at the Siding Spring Observatory in Coonabarabran, Australia, the asteroid came closest to Earth on January 17, 1933, according to NASA, and came within 699,300 miles of our planet.

So what are the chances that the Earth will be hit by an asteroid in the near future?

NASA says our planet is bombarded with 15,000 tons of space particles and small asteroids every year, but the vast majority of these bumps are small and just burn in the atmosphere.

The last significant event in over 100 years took place over Russia in 2013, when the Earth was hit by an asteroid the size of a small building. But it disintegrated about 20 kilometers above the city of Chelyabinsk, creating an impressive fireball that was widely shared on social media.

An asteroid large enough to threaten Earth's civilization comes only once every few million years, according to NASA. Impact craters on Earth, the moon and the bodies of other planets are evidence of these events.

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