Asteroid whizzing by Earth six times closer than the moon

A newly discovered space rock the size of a truck makes the closest pass-by Earth of any asteroid since last September.

Eric Mack Contributing 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 ericcmack@protonmail.com.
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Eric Mack
2 min read

The problem with asteroids passing near Earth is they're often difficult to spot.

Fortunately, the hardest ones to see in our neighborhood also tend to be the smaller ones. Such is the case with 2017 BH30, which was discovered Sunday by the Catalina Sky Survey just hours before passing by us at the creepy-close distance of only 40,563 miles (65,280 kilometers).

This asteroid is estimated to be between 15 to 32.8 feet (4.6 to 10 meters) in length, making it somewhere between the size of a truck and a...big truck. That's pretty small by asteroid standards, but it's also the closest spotted asteroid to pass us since September, when asteroid 2016 RB1 passed within 24,000 miles (about 39,000 kilometers) of our planet's surface, putting it almost as close as satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

This is the third asteroid to buzz by earth closer than the distance to the moon this year. We don't expect a closer pass by one of these visitors until October, when asteroid 2012 TC4 could come more than twice as close.

Then again, we didn't expect 2017 BH30 and other nearby asteroids to seem to be sneaking up on us every other week, so keep your eyes open.

But don't worry too much, asteroids rarely make it all the way to the surface of our planet and when they do, they seem to have an uncanny attraction to remote parts of Russia, where they sometimes go on to inspire science fiction.

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