Asteroid more than half a mile wide makes close pass by Earth Tuesday

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - An asteroid measuring nine football fields long is passing by Earth Tuesday evening, and scientists are calling it a "close call."

The asteroid made its closest approach around 3:50 p.m. Central time.

"This is a big block, over a half a mile wide," Bob Bonadurer said.

But there's no need to be concerned. Bob Bonadurer, the planetarium director at the Milwaukee Public Museum, said that asteroid is still more than 1.2 million miles away.

"This asteroid called '1994 PCI,' it doesn't have an exotic name, is going to pass by the Earth 5 times the distance of the moon," he said. "It's a close call if you think of the sun being 93 million miles away and just the volume of space, that's relatively close."

The asteroid is moving at nearly 50,000 miles per hour. It will be visible in the sky Tuesday night, but not with a naked eye.

"Even binoculars won't pick it up. You need a fairly good telescope and you can see it in the sky as a little white dot," Bonadurer said.

He said this is the closest this asteroid will get to Earth until 2105.

"If it would hit the Earth -- and it's not -- it would be catastrophic, so it's going to pass safely away," Bonadurer said.

Bonadurer said NASA has yet to discover an object that's on a direct impact with Earth.

"The Earth has been hit and it will be hit again, we are doing things about it. We have the DART Mission, NASA is on it, but the potential danger is still there and always will be there," he said.

If you would like to watch the asteroid pass but don't have a telescope, the Virtual Telescope Project is hosting a YouTube Live of the event. You can watch by clicking here.  

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