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A giant asteroid is entering our solar system and it's in the shape of a face mask

A giant asteroid is entering our solar system and it's in the shape of a face mask

Astronomical foreshadowing

Text: Marissa Chin

Image: NASA/ JPL- Caltech
Image: @areciboradar

A giant asteroid the estimated size of 1.2 miles wide is set to fly past Earth today—but should we worry?

Brace yourselves, a giant asteroid by the name of 1998 OR2 is flying past Earth this evening. This asteroid is an old friend as it was first spotted back in 1998 as its name suggests.

But do we have to worry? Dealing with an asteroid that is, according to NASA, "large enough to cause global effects" is not exactly what we want in the middle of a global pandemic.

Alas, we can breathe a sigh of relief as the asteroid will not collide in any way with our lovely green planet. The asteroid will pass within 3,908,791 miles of Earth, moving at a staggering 19,461 miles per hour. If you're still worried that may not seem like enough distance, that's about 16 times farther than the distance between Earth and the moon. Here's a little simulation to ease your mind:

Funnily enough, it would seem the asteroid is prepared in its own way as it makes it way back into our solar system. As captured by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the asteroid appears to be wearing a face mask. 

A giant asteroid is entering our solar system and it's in the shape of a face mask (фото 1)
A giant asteroid is entering our solar system and it's in the shape of a face mask (фото 2)
The similarity is uncanny 

Is this a case of cruel irony, timely foreboding of our next months to come or just plain coincidence? Whatever it is, we'll take this as the universe's nod of solidarity as we continue to tackle this pandemic together. 

You can watch the live stream of the asteroid's passage on The Virtual Telescope's website.