Radar views show big asteroid 1998 OR2 tumbling in space ahead of Earth flyby (video)

You can take the measure of the big space rock that will zoom by Earth early Wednesday morning (April 28).

A video composed of radar images captured by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico shows the near-Earth asteroid 1998 OR2 tumbling through space on its way toward our planet.

But don't worry; there's no chance of a collision with the roughly 2.5-mile-wide (4 kilometers) space rock on this pass. The asteroid will miss Earth by 3.9 million miles (6.3 million km), about 16 times the distance from Earth to the moon, during closest approach at 5:56 a.m. EDT (1056 GMT) on Wednesday.

Related: See asteroid 1998 OR2 just before its Earth flyby in a Slooh webcast

This series of radar images show the asteroid 1998 OR2 as seen by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico on April 19, 2020 as it tumbled through space, rotating once every 4.1 hours. (Image credit: Arecibo Observatory/NASA/NSF via NAIC)

The Arecibo images put something of a face on 1998 OR2 — and that face, eerily enough in these pandemic-tinged times, seems to be wearing a mask. (From some angles, anyway; the mask disappears at points as the asteroid rotates, which it does once every 4.1 hours.)

If you'd like to learn more about 1998 OR2, its flyby and potentially hazardous asteroids in general, you're in luck: The Slooh online observatory will air a webcast about the space rock tonight (April 28) at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT), which will include live telescope views of 1998 OR2. (The asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, even at closest approach.)

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook

OFFER: Save 45% on 'All About Space' 'How it Works' and 'All About History'!

<a href="https://www.space.com/your-favorite-magazines-space-science-deal-discount.html" data-link-merchant="space.com"" target="_blank">OFFER: Save 45% on 'All About Space' 'How it Works' and 'All About History'!

For a limited time, you can take out a digital subscription to any of <a href="https://www.space.com/your-favorite-magazines-space-science-deal-discount.html" data-link-merchant="space.com"" data-link-merchant="space.com"" target="_blank">our best-selling science magazines for just $2.38 per month, or 45% off the standard price for the first three months.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.