An asteroid named after a Celtic god of war will this week make its closest journey past &to=http://english.pravda.ru/science/19/94/378/12182_alien.html' target=_blank>Earth for 651 years.
The space rock known as Toutatis will come within 960,000 miles (about 1.5 million km) of Earth on Wednesday. That is relatively close by cosmic standards, Astronomy Magazine said in an e-mailed statement on Monday.
Toutatis poses no danger to Earth. However, if it did hit &to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/18/90/363/13781_nostradamus.html' target=_blank>our planet, it would create a blast with the energy equivalent to 1 million tonnes of TNT.
Measuring about 3 miles by 1.5 miles (4.5 by 2.4 km), Toutatis will speed by Earth at 22,000 miles per hour, reports Swissinfo.
According to CTV, &to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/2002/07/24/33084.html' target=_blank>experts say the asteroid, will be difficult to see in the sky because of the light from the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/main/2002/10/05/37771.html' target=_blank>full moon.
Although it will be 250 times brighter than it was two months ago, the asteroid will still be 16 times dimmer than the faintest stars that can be seen with unaided eyes.
No observer north of such cities as Denver and Pittsburgh in the United States will be able to see Toutatis because it will be below the horizon. Observers in the Southern Hemisphere who use 15 centimetre or larger telescopes will be able to follow the asteroid's fast motion across the sky.
NASA will use the Arecibo radio telescope dish in Puerto Rico to gather data on the asteroid's trajectory and physical characteristics, Steve Ostro, a scientist at the laboratory, said in the statement.
Toutatis, named after a Celtic and Gallic God, will be moving at a speed of about 39,600 kilometers an hour, and won't come this close to the Earth until 2562, &to=http://english.pravda.ru/science/19/94/378/12181_.html' target=_blank>NASA said.
The asteroid, which was discovered in 1989, tumbles like an American football "after a botched pass," rather than spinning on a single axis as most planets and asteroids do, according to the agency. Toutatis measures 4.6 kilometers by 1.9 kilometers by 2.3 kilometers, informs Bloomberg.