3-Mile-Wide Asteroid to Pass Earth, Could Pose Danger in Future

Stargazers will be eagerly awaiting a 3-mile-wide asteroid that will pass by Earth for the next three days.

The near-Earth asteroid, known as 4179 Toutatis, is roughly three miles wide, astronomers say. It will pass within 4.3 million miles of Earth during its closest approach early Wednesday morning. While that may seem like an astronomical distance in cosmic terms, it is merely a stone's throw away.

While the average person probably won't be able to see it with the naked eye, those with even the most rudimentary of telescopes can enjoy this celestial event, astronomers said.

The asteroid will be visible for the next few days and several agencies have set up live streams of the asteroid so even if you are not able to stay up into the early hours you will be able to view the asteroid on your computer.

The online Slooh Space Camera and Virtual Telescope Project will provide a live stream of the asteroid that uses high-powered telescopes. Slooh will webcast Toutatis views from a telescope in the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, as well as from an instrument in Arizona.

Astronomers stated that Toutatis was first seen in 1934 and then put on the books officially in 1989. Its current orbit takes the asteroid around the sun every four years.

While this specific object poses not real harm to Earth the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., has listed Toutatis as a potentially hazardous object that could possibly be a threat to Earth at some point in the future.

Should the asteroid strike Earth it would be devastating for the planet, given that scientists have stated that any impact from an object bigger than 0.6 miles wide could have global implications by affecting the climate for many years.

Scientists have previously stated they believe the asteroid that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct was roughly six miles wide.