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Watch: 1998 QE2 asteroid fly by Earth tonight

At approximately 5:00 p.m. ET on Friday, a 1.7-mile-wide asteroid will flyby the Earth's surface, but don't worry the 1998 QE2 asteroid will not come close to hittting the Earth's surface. It will actually not get closer than 3.6 million miles from Earth, which is 15 times farther than we are from the moon.

The large asteroid is so big radar photos taken on Thursday show that it has its own moon, and scientists predict it will be traveling at a velocity of 23,666 miles per hour. Researchers believe that if an asteroid of this size were to hit the Earth, it would cause another extinction event, similar to what killed off the dinosaurs. Scientists assume that the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs was six miles wide, but that a hit from any asteroid over .6 miles wide would cause that type of devastation.

"Whenever an asteroid approaches this closely, it provides an important scientific opportunity to study it in detail to understand its size, shape, rotation, surface features, and what they can tell us about its origin," radar astronomer Lance Benner, the principal investigator for the Goldstone radar observations from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "We will also use new radar measurements of the asteroid's distance and velocity to improve our calculation of its orbit and compute its motion farther into the future than we could otherwise."


The asteroid was discovered in 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research Program. While the asteroid is the size of nine cruise ships in length, it did not get its name from the Queen Elizabeth Two ship. New asteroids are named by the year they are detected, and an alphanumeric code related to the half-month it was discovered.

Scientists recommend that everyone take notice, because the asteroid will not be this close to our planet for another two centuries.

While the 1998 QE2 is massive it would look 100 times dimmer than the faintest star and cannot be seen by the naked eye at all, the asteroid is being monitored by special telescopes and can be watched in the video above taken by Slooh Space Camera.

"It will be fun to actually watch it change position," Astronomy magazine columnist Bob Berman said a statement. "And although it will not come nearer than 14 Moon distances, that's still about ten times closer than Mars can ever get. As Slooh's Space Cameras image it directly that afternoon, we will all be reminded that asteroids of this size have changed the biosphere of our planet in the past, and even set the stage for the present dominion of humans. It also assures us that it was a good idea that NASA, in 2012, tripled its budget for detecting and mapping such Near Earth Objects."