Several near-Earth asteroids buzz by our neighborhood in the same week

Just look at all this space rock traffic.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack
2 min read

They're up there.


There are thousands of asteroids flying around the inner solar system, and every couple of weeks or so one of them might be seen passing closer to our planet than the distance between us and the moon. 

But this past week there seemed to be more space rock traffic than usual, with at least six asteroids coming within about one lunar distance and 12 passing within five lunar distances, according to NASA data

We've already reported on building-size Asteroid 2018 RC slipping by on Saturday, but the much smaller 2018 RW zipped by even closer just a few hours after first being discovered. There was also 2018 RS, which is about the size of a pickup truck, and wasn't spotted until a day after it had already come within 0.3 lunar distances (106,214 kilometers or 65,998 miles) of our planet.

The good news is that the asteroids that are only seen in astronomers' rearview mirror tend to be the smaller ones.

Keep in mind all these asteroids pose no threat to our planet. There's often some confusion around tabloid headlines that shout about "potentially hazardous" asteroids because almost 2,000 such space rocks are currently being tracked. But none of these is going to send us the way of the dinosaurs anytime soon. 

Any asteroid that is of a certain size and on an orbit that brings it within a certain proximity automatically gets that potentially hazardous label. In other words, it doesn't mean that a detailed analysis has been done to determine that the asteroid in question is actually aiming for us.

In June, an asteroid just 6 feet (2 meters) across was seen shortly before it impacted our atmosphere. Tiny bits of it were later found in Africa

One asteroid that does actually have a chance of hitting us is named Bennu, and it's the destination of NASA's Osiris-Rex mission. But again, there's no reason to worry just yet: It's estimated to have only a 1 in 2,700 chance of hitting Earth and not until sometime between 2175 and 2196.

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