Surprise Asteroid Passed Really Close To Earth

Astronomers are saying that we shouldn't be concerned about 2012 BX34, the asteroid they were surprised to detect on Wednesday. After all, it only passed by at less than a fifth of the distance to the moon, "one of the closest approaches ever recorded."

Those are the words of Gareth Williams -- associate director of the Minor Planet centre, which operates at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory -- 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 travelling at about 8.9km/s. [NEOO Twitter, BBC News]

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