In pictures: Giant asteroid 1998 QE2 flies by Earth

A huge asteroid is set to cruise by Earth Friday afternoon, making its closest approach to our planet for at least the next two centuries.



    The Virtual Telescope Project in Italy captured this view of the huge asteroid 1998 QE2 on May 30, 2013.
    Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope Project (


    May 29, 2013: One of a sequence of radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2, which makes its closest pass by the Earth Friday evening.


    First radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2 were obtained when the asteroid was about 3.75 million miles (6 million kilometers) from Earth.


    On May 31, 2013, asteroid 1998 QE2 will sail serenely past Earth, getting no closer than about 3.6 million miles, or about 15 times the distance between Earth and the moon.


    An artist's rendering of the asteroid Apophis, another near-Earth asteroid that made headlines recently. On April 13, 2029, the 3½ football fields long asteroid will buzz about 19,400 miles above Earth's surface. 
    European Space Agency


    The Herschel Space Observatory captured asteroid Apophis in its field of view during its recent approach to Earth, Jan. 5-6, 2013. This image shows the asteroid in Herschel's three wavelengths: 70, 100 and 160 microns.
    ESA/Herschel/PACS/MACH-11/MPE/B.Altieri (ESAC) and C. Kiss (Konkoly Observatory)


    At about 36 hours from the minimum distance (9.3 million miles or 15 million kilometers from Earth), potentially hazardous asteroid Apophis was imaged again with the Virtual Telescope, on Jan. 8, 2013.
    G. Masi & F. Nocentini
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