Asteroid Near Earth And Uncomfortably Close


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An asteroid named 2014 EC, considered small to astronomers, (25 feet wide) is zooming past earth at a surprisingly close proximity. It's actually between the moon and the earth, and within 38,300 miles from us.

It passed by us early on March 6th, the third consecutive asteroid flyby within the past 24 hours, and is six times closer than the orbit of the moon. NASA officials said, just for a comparison, the moon orbits Earth at an average distance of 239,000 miles - that asteroid is close.

"This is not an unusual event," Paul Chodas, a senior scientist in the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "Objects of this size pass this close to the Earth several times every year."

Today's close encounter came just one day after two other space rocks came close to our planet. On Wednesday afternoon a 100-foot-wide asteroid 2014 DX110 zipped within 217,000 miles of Earth.

"A third asteroid, 2014 EF, which is closer in size to today's 2014 EC, passed Earth at about 7 p.m. PST Wednesday, with closest approach about twice as far from Earth as 2014 EC's closest approach," NASA officials wrote in an update today.

NASA scientists, in an effort to calm nerves, stated that there was never any danger of an impact by the asteroids during these flybys. The odds that 2014 EC will ever hit Earth are currently estimated to be 1 in 2.7 million.

2014 EC was discovered on Tuesday night. It's about half as wide as the space rock that exploded without warning over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February 2013, generating a powerful shock wave that injured 1,500 people, mostly due to flying glass.

While 2014 EC will come extremely close to Earth, it's not going to be a great object for sky watching. The asteroid won't be visible through binoculars or small telescopes, said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object program office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"Moderately sized telescopes if you know where to look -- yes," Yeoman's told via email. "The asteroid will reach an apparent magnitude of about 13.6 near closest approach."

But for those who want to watch it pass by, you can watch the encounter live online courtesy of the Virtual Telescope Project.

A meteor that hit Arizona 50,000 years ago, which was merely 0.737 miles long, hit the earth with such an impact, its impression - known as Meteor Crater - is 3,900 ft. in diameter, around 570 ft. deep and is surrounded by a rim that rises 148 ft. above the surrounding plains, just to give you an idea of what an asteroid can do if impact occurs.

Then again, it can't compare with the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Images via NASA 1 - 2