Asteroid ‘bigger than Big Ben’ hurtling towards Earth’s orbit at 33,000mph

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An asteroid bigger than Big Ben is hurtling towards Earth at a speed of more than 33,000 miles per hour, according to NASA.

The giant space rock has been dubbed 2020 XO by astronomers at the Centre for Near Earth Objects, who are tracking the asteroid from the California Institute of Technology.

It is expected to zip past the Earth tomorrow (Monday, December 13) at 12:18pm EST, which is the equivalent to 5.18pm GMT in the UK.

Asteroid 2020 XO is classed as an NEO as it comes within 1.3 astronomical units of Earth, which sounds close but in reality the rock is 1,093,961.9 earth miles away from our planet.

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It is travelling at an epic 33,129 miles per hour through space, or 4.58 kilometres per second.

The asteroid is also estimated to be between 46m and 100m wide, bigger than the size of London’s iconic Big Ben.

Big Ben stands in the Palace of Westminster at 96m and chimes over the capital.

The tower has no elevator, and is therefore only accessible by climbing 334 steps to the top.

Astronomers are tracking thousands of asteroids at any given moment and 2020XO is actually quite small in comparison to some rocks.

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On Christmas Day in 2020, asteroid 501647 will be zooming past planet Earth at 22,300 miles per hour.

Like 2020 XO, it is an Apollo asteroid, which means the space rock will collide with the planet's orbit as it safely passes.

The asteroid is estimated to be anywhere between 90m and 210m, making it one of the biggest asteroids to pass Earth in December.

  • Asteroids
  • Nasa

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