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Asteroid 3 times taller than Niagara Falls to zip past Earth on 1st day of fall

By
Brian Lada, AccuWeather, Accuweather.com

An animation of an asteroid flying through the solar system. Image courtesy of NASA

Astronomical autumn kicks off on Wednesday afternoon, and the start of the new season will coincide with an asteroid larger than the Statue of Liberty swinging past the Earth.

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The asteroid, named 2021 NY1, is classified as a Near-Earth Object and is roughly 580 feet long, making it more than two times taller than Lady Liberty standing in New York Harbor and more than three times taller than Niagara Falls.

While a rock this size could be a problem if it were to hit the Earth, NASA says that it is not on a collision course with the planet. This is also the closest it is projected to pass by Earth through at least the year 2193.

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Just a few hours before the equinox arrives, the asteroid is set to harmlessly pass the planet around Wednesday morning shortly before 11 a.m. EDT, according to TheSkyLive, but close is a relative term.

At its closest approach, it will be around 930,000 miles away from the Earth, which is almost four times farther away than the moon. It is flying through the solar system much faster than a speeding bullet at around 6 miles per second.

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Despite its size and proximity to the planet, it will not be visible to many skywatchers without the help of a high-powered telescope.

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The passing of this asteroid coincidentally occurs on the September equinox.

At precisely 3:21 p.m. EDT, summer will transition to autumn in the Northern Hemisphere while the Southern Hemisphere switches from winter to spring.

This is different from meteorological autumn, which started on Sept. 1.

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Out-of-this-world images from space

This composite image made from six frames shows the International Space Station, with a crew of seven aboard, in silhouette as it transits the sun at roughly 5 miles per second on April 23, 2021, as seen from Nottingham, Md. Aboard are: NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Mark Vande Hei; Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy, Pyotr Dubrov; and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Joining the crew aboard station the next day were Crew-2 mission crew members: Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

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