A “POTENTIALLY hazardous” asteroid nearly three times the size of Big Ben is set to make its closest pass of Earth today.

Asteroid 2008 OS7 is a whopping 890ft (271m), according to the Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which will monitor the giant space rock as it flies by.

The asteroid is the same height as the Crown Sydney skyscraper, in Australia

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The asteroid is the same height as the Crown Sydney skyscraper, in Australia

However, it’s closest approach will come no closer than 1,770,000 miles of Earth.

That distance is more than seven times further away than the moon orbits Earth.

There is no worry that the asteroid will impact Earth, according to Nasa.

The asteroid has been classified as a “Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA)” because its orbit intersects with that of Earth.

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If it were to collide with Earth, asteroid 2008 OS7 it could wipe out a city as large as New York.

Will I be able to see asteroid 2008 OS7?

Amateur astronomers will have to stand-down, however, as 2008 OS7 will not be visible to the naked eye or with your average telescope.

According to Dr Kim: “Unfortunately, asteroids are generally too faint to have been detected by the current techniques and surveys, so it’s very hard to see by our naked eyes.”

“The only asteroid at all visible to the naked eye so far are Pallas and Vesta, having diameters of about 500km.”

There are plenty of “potentially hazardous asteroids” or PHAs in our Solar System.

Dr Kim explains: “There are more than millions of asteroids in our Solar System, of which [roughly] 2,350 asteroids have been classified as PHAs.

“The next significant approach to Earth by a PHA will be the 99942 Apophis on April 14, 2029.”

As space rocks go, asteroid 2008 OS7 is pretty minor.

Last year, Earth had more than 100 close encounters with large asteroids.

According to Dr Minjae Kim, Research Fellow in the Department of Physics at Warwick University, 2008 OS7 is “a very small asteroid” despite the damage it could do.

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Dr Kim added: “One of the most intriguing aspects of the 2008 OS7 is its estimated diameter based on its luminosity and reflective properties, ranging from 0.221 to 0.494 kilometres.

“This places it in the category of a small to moderately-sized asteroid, roughly equivalent to the size of a football field.

“We don’t need to worry about it too much as this asteroid will not enter Earth’s atmosphere, while this will still approach close to the Earth.”

The next time asteroid 2008 OS7 will pass by Earth is in 962 days, when it completes its orbit around the sun.

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This post first appeared on Thesun.co.uk

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