Monday, October 06, 2003


Record close asteroid pass reported  

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Astronomers say a medium-sized asteroid passed just 55,000 miles from Earth on Saturday, Sept. 27 -- the closest approach of a natural object ever recorded. New Scientist magazine said the asteroid, about the size of a small house, came from inside the Earth's orbit and was only spotted after it had passed Earth. The first sighting, occurring Sunday, Sept. 28, was reported by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search program. Astronomers said the asteroid's 1.85-year orbit is quite eccentric, indicating it cannot be a man-made object. Scientists said the asteroid, measuring approximately 33 feet in diameter, would have been too small to pose a danger to Earth, although it would have created a spectacular fireball had it entered our atmosphere. The previous record for closest approach of an asteroid -- 67,000 miles -- was set in 1994. But New Scientist magazine said an asteroid measuring about 260 feet in diameter made the third-closest approach -- at 75,000 miles -- last year. If it had entered the Earth's atmosphere, it would have devastated more than a thousand square miles of land.

Exactly how many close shaves does it take before SOMEone realizes that we're in danger, each and every day? 'Only' 33 feet in diameter. Probably weighs a mere 20-30 tons. Hardly enough to make a dent in the mantle. Just don't be standing on the big red X when it hits...

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