NASA scientists say an asteroid nearly 2 miles in length will pass by the Earth on May 31. While it won’t be visible to the naked eye or amateur astronomers, its 3.6 million mile distance from the Earth qualifies as a relatively near approach. The distance is roughly 15 times further from Earth’s nearest neighboring body, the moon. In a statement released by NASA officials, the asteroid is described as, nine times larger than a cruise ship, and would require a telescope with a lens at least 230 feet wide to view from Earth. NASA will be using two 230-foot radar scopes to view the flyby.
The asteroid, named 1998 QE2 after the year and time frame in which it was discovered, will not pass this closely to the Earth for another 200 years.