A bus-sized asteroid just came closer than the moon to hitting Earth

Contributed by
May 6, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT (Updated)

Well, that was a little too close for comfort. 

Most of us didn’t realize it, but an asteroid about the size of a city bus zoomed by Earth over the weekend, and passed at a range closer than the moon in the wee hours of May 3. Thankfully, the rock’s orbit trajectory meant it had little chance of making impact — but man, that’s close.

Dubbed 2014 HL129, the newly discovered asteroid came within 186,000 miles of Earth when it made its closest approach on Saturday morning, meaning it was near enough to pass between Earth and the orbit of the moon. For the sake of comparison, the average distance between the Earth and moon is about 238,855 miles.

Yeah, 186,000 miles sounds like a good distance away. But, relative to the enormity of space, that’s a head-shaving fly-by. Astronomers with the Mt. Lemmon Survey team first spotted the asteroid on April 28, so if it had hit the planet, we would’ve at least had a bit of warning.

Coupled with the fact that a new study indicates our planet is 10 times more likely to be hit by an asteroid, and budget cuts mean we might not even spot the next one, let’s just all hope the night sky stays relatively clear from now on.

(Via Space.com)

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