Surprise Asteroid Passing Really Close to Earth – Right Now!

In case you didn’t know, on Wednesday, astronomers detected an asteroid that was heading towards the Earth. After doing whatever astronomer math they do, they determined that we’re going to be okay because the asteroid is only 5 times closer to the Earth than the Moon. That’s right, this asteroid is going on the list of  “one of the closest approaches ever recorded.”

At least that’s what Gareth Williams—associate director of the Minor Planet Center, which operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory—said while talking to BBC News. The asteroid caught astronomers by surprise. In a recent tweet, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Near Earth Object Office (NEOO) said that “asteroids this small are hard to spot, and luckily they pose the least concern.” Their goal is “to find the bigger ones.”

NEOO made the announcement in another tweet yesterday:

Busy week. Asteroid 2012 BX34 will safely pass Earth on Jan. 27. Distance: 36,750 miles (59,044 km) or about .17 lunar distance.

Later, they followed with:

Asteroid 2012 BX34 is small, ~11 meters/37 ft diameter. It wouldn’t get through our atmosphere intact even if it dared to try.

The asteroid is traveling at about 5.53 miles per second (8.9 kilometers per second) and will pass Earth Right About now…! [NEOO Twitter, BBC News, Gizmodo]