A giant asteroid dubbed "The Beast" is headed toward the Earth for a Sunday encounter, but thankfully it doesn't have our planet in the crosshairs, astronomers say.

The near-Earth space rock -- with the official name 2014 HQ124 -- will come close enough for the fly-by to be considered a close shave, though.

At the closest point in its fly-by around 2 a.m. EDT, it will pass at just 777,000 miles away, around 3.25 times the distance between the moon and us.

The Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union has classified the space rock as a "Potentially Harzardous Asteroid."

While there's no risk of impact from The Beast on this go-around, such a large asteroid -- it's estimated to be around 1,100 feet across -- could create a global catastrophe if it were to hit us, experts said.

"This one would definitely be catastrophic if it hit the Earth," said asteroid watcher Mark Boslough of the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

"If it hit a city, it would definitely wipe out an entire metropolitan area," Boslough said during a flyby preview webcast June 5 hosted by the Slooh online community observatory.

Such an impact would create a 3-mile-wide crater and would break windows up to 60 miles away, he said.

When it passes the Earth, the asteroid will be travelling at a speed of around 31,000 miles per hour.

The asteroid was first spotted April 23 by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and first thought to be even bigger because of its observed brightness, but further measurements as it approached Earth yielded the current estimates of its size.

NASA says that 90 percent of asteroids of 3,000 feet or larger have been successfully detected and identified, but that leaves a lot of less massive space rocks yet to be found.

In February 2013, a 65-foot-wide asteroid exploded in a fireball over the Russian metropolis of Chelyabinsk, injuring 1,200 people, most of them hurt by flying glass from thousands of shattered windows.

Of an estimated million asteroids of around 100 feet across -- which could still do damage if they struck the planet -- most have yet to be identified, NASA scientists say.

And although The Beast was detected, it was only spotted when it was already close and coming closer, experts say.

"What's disconcerting is that a rocky/metallic body this large, and coming so very close, should have only first been discovered this soon before its nearest approach," says Bob Berman, an astronomer with the Slooh Space Camera organization.

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.