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Asteroid buzzes Earth ahead of Asteroid Day

As we get ready for a day dedicated to space rocks, a few make an appearance for the occasion.

Space rock block party!

This year started out with a lot of anxiety-inducing close passes by near-Earth asteroids. After a lull for few months, two more space rocks have swung by in June, just in time for Asteroid Day planned for the last day of the month.

A football field-sized asteroid whipped by at about the same distance to us as the moon on June 6. And another slightly smaller one named asteroid 2017 MF is passing us at about the same distance on Monday. 

They both posed no threat, but each buzz of a recently discovered asteroid makes it harder not to think about all the other nearby objects our telescopes don't catch. You may remember when one snuck into our atmosphere a few years back, creating an explosion that shattered windows throughout the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Highlighting the threat posed by asteroids is part of the fourth annual "Asteroid Day," held each year on June 30 in commemoration of the Tunguska Event, a massive meteor impact that happened in 1908 in Siberia.

"We ignore them at our peril," says physicist and BBC personality Brian Cox in a release. Cox will be hosting 24 hours of programming during Asteroid Day this year on television and online.

Research suggests a newly discovered branch of a popular meteor shower contains multiple large near-Earth asteroids. If true, it's possible there could be more close encounters coming up to make Asteroid Day even more relevant. 

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