Asteroid 3.5 hippos long to pass Earth today – Can you watch it?

The asteroid, designated 2022 GJ4, is approximately 18 meters wide, making it as long as 3.5 hippos or 3 giraffes. Another asteroid, 2022 GU3, 9.6 American buffalos long, will fly close on Friday.

 An asteroid is seen near Earth in this artistic illustration. (photo credit: PIXABAY)
An asteroid is seen near Earth in this artistic illustration.
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

A small asteroid the size of three-and-a-half hippos is passing by Earth Monday – and if you're in the right place, you just might be able to get a glimpse.

How big is the asteroid?

The asteroid, designated 2022 GJ4, has a diameter ranging between 14 and 32 meters. According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, its approximate width is 18 meters. For comparison, the average hippo can grow to a length of 5.2 meters. To use a different metric, it would have a combined length of around three giraffes.

How far away is the asteroid?

Flying at a speed of approximately 15.55 kilometers per second, this small space rock will pass the Earth at a distance of around 1.5 million kilometers.

For comparison, the Moon orbits the Earth at a distance of around 384,000 kilometers, so this is considerably farther, but on a  cosmic scale it is still a very close call. 

As such, the Earth is in little to no danger of a possible impact. And even if it did, the damage such a small asteroid could cause would be minimal, especially when compared to larger more destructive asteroids.

An asteroid is seen orbiting around Earth in this artistic rendering. (credit: PIXABAY)An asteroid is seen orbiting around Earth in this artistic rendering. (credit: PIXABAY)

However, with how close it is coming to the Earth, the question remains:

Can you watch it?

Technically yes, but only if you're in the right place with the right equipment.

Asteroid 2022 GJ4 is still very small. It is this, combined with distance and brightness, that factor into whether an asteroid is visible from Earth.

Overall, the answer is yes, even if you're in Israel, but you would need to use long exposure photography, as noted by The Sky Live

Another one?

2022 GJ4 isn't the only asteroid to have such a close upcoming flyby with Earth.

On Friday, another small asteroid, designated 2022 GU3, is also set to pass by the planet.

This asteroid is estimated by NASA JPL to be slightly larger – approximately 24 meters, or 9.6 American buffalos or four giraffes – and will be slightly more distant – 1.75 million kilometers – than 2022 GJ4. 

And you can see this one, too – if you have long exposure photography at your disposal.