An asteroid big enough to wipe out a city will travel harmlessly between Earth and the moon’s orbit this weekend, missing both celestial bodies.
Saturday’s close encounter will offer astronomers the chance to study a space rock from just over 100,000 miles away.
That is less than half the distance from here to the moon, making it visible through binoculars and small telescopes.
While asteroid flybys are common, Nasa said it is rare for one so big to come so close – about once a decade.
Scientists estimate its size to be somewhere between 130 feet and 300 feet.
Discovered a month ago, the asteroid known as 2023 DZ2 will pass within 320,000 miles of the moon on Saturday and, several hours later, pass above the Indian Ocean at about 17,500mph.
“There is no chance of this ‘city killer’ striking Earth, but its close approach offers a great opportunity for observations,” said the European Space Agency’s planetary defence chief, Richard Moissl.
Astronomers with the International Asteroid Warning Network see it as good practice for planetary defence if and when a dangerous asteroid heads our way, according to Nasa.
The Virtual Telescope Project will provide a live webcast of the close approach.
The asteroid will not be back our way again until 2026.
Although there initially seemed to be a slight chance it might strike Earth then, scientists have since ruled that out.