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When Asteroid 2001 FO32 breezes past our planet, the rock will be travelling so fast through space, astronomers on Earth will likely be able to detect its motion in from t of stars in real-time. Arguably the most spectacular near-Earth asteroid event of the entire year, the space rock will zoom past our planet on March 21.

Analysis by NASA asteroid trackers has conformed 2001 FO32 is approximately 0.6 miles (1 km) across.

To put this into perspective, this makes the cosmic debris roughly three times taller than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

Mr Eddie Irizarry, a NASA Solar System Ambassador, has now revealed its gargantuan dimensions are not the only element of interest.

He wrote in earthsky.org: “The space rock is of interest also because it’s one of the fastest space rocks known to fly by Earth.

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“It’s travelling at about 76,980mph (123,887kmh) or 21 miles (34.4km) per second, relative to Earth.”

For context, our world is orbiting our solar system’s sun at approximately 18 miles (30km) every second.

Mr Irizarry added: “Since 2001 FO32 is good-sized and occasionally passes near Earth, it’s been classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid.”

Fortunately, there is absolutely no need to panic as this ancient detritus poses no threat to our planet.

The asteroid’s orbit is well-known meaning experts can say with certainty it will blithely continue barrelling away from us, following its close encounter.

On Sunday, March 21, FO32’s closest approach to Earth will take place at 4.03pm GMT.

At the mammoth asteroid’s closest point to Earth, FO32 will be roughly 1.3 million miles (2,016,351km) away.

The is the cosmic equivalent to five times the average distance between Earth and its Moon.

As a result, even the most eagle-eye staggers stand no chance of spotting the awesome event without the assistance of expensive telescope equipment.

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Based on its brightness and its reflective qualities, 2001 FO32 is almost certainly larger than 97 percent of asteroids.

Mr Irizarry said: “A fascinating aspect of asteroids is that observers using backyard telescopes can spot them as apparently slow-moving ‘stars’.

“It typically takes at least five to 10 minutes for backyard telescope users to detect a space rock’s motion in front of its starfield.

“But asteroid 2001 FO32 will be sweeping past Earth at such a fast pace that, when it’s closest, observers using eight-inch or larger telescopes might be able to detect its motion – its drift in front of the stars – in real-time.

“We note that the space rock will be too faint to see with the unaided eye.”

How to spot largest space rock flyby:

This does, however, mean anyone possessing an eight-inch or larger diameter telescopes stands a chance of spotting it – weather permitting.

But one important caveat needs to be addressed for observers in the northern hemisphere, such as the UK.

The asteroid is placed relatively low in the southern sky and when asteroid 2001 FO32 passes by Earth, observers using telescopes might try to spot it as it streaks through the southern constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius.

For observers in the southern US, the asteroid will be low in the sky, above the southern horizon – about 20 degrees or lower – prior to dawn on March 21.

Mr Irizarry added: “Observers at lower latitudes and in the southern hemisphere will be better placed to take a look through a telescope.”

After it passes by Earth in mid-March, Earth’s next encounter with this asteroid takes place in almost exactly 31 years – March 22, 2052.

However, the 2021 approach will be its closest to Earth for the next 200 years for which its orbit has been calculated.

The asteroid’s elliptical orbit takes it around the Sun every 810 days – the equivalent to 2.22 years.

2001 FO32 actually gets as close as 0.30 Astronomical Units to the Sun (one AU being the average distance between the Earth and the Sun) and the asteroid travels as far from the sun as 3.11 AU.

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