A massive asteroid (and some smaller ones) just passed close to Earth
They didn't stop to say hello, but a mountain of a space rock and some friends did visit the neighborhood.
Eric MackContributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is email@example.com.
ExpertiseSolar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/Credentials
Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
An asteroid the size of a mountain cruised through our cosmic neighborhood Wednesday and humanity survived, because even a close pass in space terms isn't actually that close.
In fact, asteroid 1998 OR2 was always no closer than 3.9 million miles (6.3 million kilometers), putting it over 16 times farther away than the moon.
Still, 1998 OR2 was a rare monster of a space rock, at 1.5 miles (2 kilometers) wide. It was large enough to allow a number of astronomers to catch it as it took a little jaunt through our domain.
The object made its close approach at 2:55 a.m. Pacific and safely whizzed back out to deeper space. This is the first close approach by such a large asteroid since 2017.
Interestingly, this week in space was also punctuated by a handful of far smaller asteroids coming much closer to our planet. According to NASA's database, at least five asteroids have come closer to our planet than the moon over the last seven days.
None of these asteroids were much bigger than a house, but one -- asteroid 2020HS7 -- did come nearly as close as geosynchronous orbit, where many of our larger satellites hang out.
We get such close visitors multiple times a year, so it's really nothing to worry about, but always worth keeping an eye (and lots of telescopes) on the sky.