A gigantic asteroid four times bigger than the UK has come so near to our planet that it’s visible in the night sky without a telescope.
The space rock 4 Vesta, which is the fourth largest known asteroid in the solar system, can be seen until July 16. It recently came with 106 million miles of Earth – the closest it has reached to Earth for 20 years.
Vesta’s total surface area is 800,000 km², which is roughly the same as Pakistan and a lot bigger than the 242,495 km² United Kingdom.
The space rock is named Vesta after the goddess of the hearth and household in Roman mythology. It’s famous for a 13-mile-high mountain at its north pole that’s one of the tallest peaks humanity has ever discovered.
Vesta is also one of the easiest to see because it has a surface which reflects more light than the moon. It will be visible as a yellowish dot in the sky. To get the best view, you should use binoculars or a telescope.
If Vesta hit Earth, it would wipe out most life on the planet.
To get a sense of the damage it would cause, just consider that the space rock which killed the dinosaurs was between 10 to 15 kilometers wide, whilst Vesta is about 525 kilometers wide.
Luckily, it’s not on a collision course with us and Nasa recently said no other asteroids are heading our way either.