A house-size asteroid just made a rare close pass by Earth

Space rocks buzz by us all the time, but we don't get many of this size invading our orbital space more than a few times a year.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack
2 min read

Space rock block party!


Just days after the "Super Bowl asteroid" passed Earth on Sunday, another space rock buzzed by much, much closer on Friday at around 10:30 am. PT. 

Asteroid 2018 CB safely whizzed by our planet at a distance of about 39,000 miles (64,000 kilometers). NASA estimates the asteroid to be between 50 and 130 feet (15 and 40 meters) across.

The larger Asteroid 2002 AJ129 generated a lot of hype before it passed at a safe distance of about 2.6 million miles (4.2 million kilometers), right around the same time the big game kicked off on Sunday. Part of the reason it got so much attention is that astronomers saw it coming. 

The smaller, closer asteroid, 2018 CB, was just spotted for the first time a few days before whizzing by.

"Although 2018 CB is quite small, it might well be larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia, almost exactly five years ago, in 2013," said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies. "Asteroids of this size do not often approach this close to our planet -- maybe only once or twice a year."  

Asteroid 2018 CB passed closely by Earth on Feb. 9 at a distance of about 39,000 miles.


You may recall that the Chelyabinsk bolide exploded when it hit the atmosphere above Russia, creating a shock wave that blew out numerous windows on the ground.

Because the asteroid made its closest pass during daylight hours in the Western Hemisphere, it's been a little hard to spot it. But the Virtual Telescope Project based in Italy will be tracking it as it zooms away from us and you can watch the show live below:

2018 CB also comes on the heels of another recently discovered asteroid, 2018 CC, which came within 114,000 miles (184,000 kilometers) of us on Tuesday.

It's important to remember that while these asteroids are coming relatively close in space terms, they pose no threat to us. But perhaps someone should check to see if they might intercept the trajectory of "Starman" behind the wheel of Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster.

First published Feb. 8, 1:25 p.m. PT.
Update, Feb. 9, 11:10 a.m. PT:
Details added about the asteroid's Friday pass, as well as a live stream video.

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