Watch CBS News

Buhl Planetarium & Observatory Tracks Path Of Asteroid Set To Pass By Earth

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- An asteroid larger than the Empire State Building is going to have a close pass-by with Earth this weekend, but the experts at Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium & Observatory say there is no need for worry.

The asteroid is over 2,000 feet in diameter and is going to be about two million miles away from Earth, says Buhl Planetarium producer Charissa Sedor.

NASA has labeled this asteroid as "potentially hazardous," so we went to the expert stargazers at Carnegie Science Center about what that means exactly.

"It is pretty big, and, yes, technically it is potentially very hazardous just by where it is, how close it's going to get; but don't worry, it's still going to be over 2 million miles away from Earth, so we don't really have to worry about it hitting us this time," said Sedor.

Turns out, NASA has a whole branch - the Center for Near Earth Object Studies - on the lookout for these types of things.

"NASA actually tracks Near Earth Objects, or NEOs, so any asteroids or comets that could come within a few million miles of Earth," Sedor says. "It is considered potentially hazardous if it comes even closer, like within one astronomical unit, which is about 93 million miles, that's the average distance between the Earth and the sun. So, anything that comes within that range, they like to keep their eye on."

According to Newsweek, the asteroid will pass by on Saturday around 11 a.m. and will be traveling at a speed equivalent to more than 58,000 miles per hour. It is being called 2016 AJ193.

Amateur stargazers won't be able to see it though.

"It really won't affect us at all, other than giving us a close pass by," says Sedor.

If you are interested learning more about the asteroid's path or have any other questions about space or Near Earth Objects, Sedor says the Buhl Planetarium is the place in Pittsburgh to find out.

They are open this Saturday, Aug. 21, until 4 p.m., during the pass by.

They have a number of shows, exhibits and experts to answer your questions. Visit their website here for more information on their schedule, calendar and more.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.