Sydney Harbour Bridge-sized asteroid hurtling towards Earth

Olivia Lambert
·News Editor
·3-min read

A "potentially hazardous" asteroid the size of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is hurtling towards Earth.

There is however no reason to panic, according to NASA, as it will make its closest approach about two million kilometres away.

Astronomers may catch a rare glimpse of the asteroid through a telescope as it is predicted to pass by Earth on March 21 and be seen in Australia in the early hours of March 22.

An asteroid near Earth.
The 2001 FO32 asteroid will travel at speeds of 124,000km/h. Source: Getty/file

"We know there is no chance the asteroid will get any closer to Earth than [two million kilometres]," Centre of Near Earth Object Studies director Paul Chodas said in a statement.

He added the distance was considered close in astronomical terms, hence why the 2001 FO32 asteroid has been classified as a "potentially hazardous asteroid".

NASA said in a statement the asteroid will pass Earth at lightning speeds of about 124,000km/h – that's 34 kilometres per second.

Asteroid won't near Earth again until 2052

The Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program estimates the asteroid is about 1000m wide, roughly the same length as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and will be the largest to pass our planet this year.

"The last notably large asteroid close approach was that of 1998 OR2 on April 29, 2020," NASA said in a statement.

"While 2001 FO32 is somewhat smaller than 1998 OR2, it will be three times nearer to Earth."

A NASA diagram that shows the orbit around the Sun of asteroid 2001 FO32.
A diagram showing the asteroid's orbit around the Sun. Source: NASA

NASA reports as the asteroid makes its journey into the inner solar system, it will pick up speed like a skateboarder rolling down a halfpipe.

It will slow down before it is then flung back out into deep space and swings back toward the Sun.

"After its brief visit, 2001 FO32 will continue its lonely voyage, not coming this close to Earth again until 2052, when it will pass by at about seven lunar distances, or 2.8 million kilometres," NASA said.

Theory behind asteroid nearing Earth

Leading intuitive astrologer, Rose Smith, said the passing of the asteroid had a deeper meaning to people who were spiritual.

“It symbolises a fresh start for many people,” she said.

“All celestial bodies – planets, asteroids and the like have an important influence both psychologically and spiritually on all living things.

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“Think about how the moon affects the ocean tides, surely as we are composed mostly of water, it must affect us in some way, perhaps even physically in the case of the moon.”

Amateur astronomers will need a very dark and clear sky to catch a glimpse of the asteroid and it will be at its closest point to Earth at 3.03am (AEDT) Monday, March 22.

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