A Jumbo Jet-Sized Asteroid Just Flew between the Earth, Moon

A giant city-killer asteroid just missed hitting Earth yesterday

"It snuck up on us pretty quickly", said Brown, an associate professor with Australia's Monash University's School of Physics and Astronomy. According to a statement offered by a well-known astronomer, the impact between Earth and the asteroid could have led to severe damage. And another asteroid dubbed 2019 OK moved past our Earth yesterday at a "dangerously" close distance of 70,000 kilometres, barely missing from hitting our Earth.

That might sound far but it is about a fifth of the distance to the Moon, scientists said, and a pretty close call.

Astronomers around the world continue to work to monitor any asteroids that pose danger to us.

2019 OK has a very elliptical orbit, taking it from the asteroid belt beyond Mars to within the orbits of both Earth and Venus.

In a separate comment to the Herald, Dr Brown said: "This is one of the closest approaches to Earth by an asteroid that we know of". And though this asteroid "is not a threat to Earth right now", other such near-Earth asteroids can be.

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It swung as close as 45,000 miles (73,000 kilometers) from Earth, what one astronomer told The Washington Post was "uncomfortably close.".

While it isn't large enough to bring on an Armageddon-style event reminiscent of the dinosaur-killing asteroid, Brown notes that a moderate-size impact 'could devastate a city'.

"It's probably the largest asteroid to pass this close to Earth in quite a number of years".

"It would have gone off like a very large nuclear weapon" with enough force to destroy a city, he said. One strategy involves gently pushing the asteroid slowly over time off its course and away from Earth, he said.

The US government is stepping up efforts to protect the planet from incoming asteroids that could wipe out entire regions or even continents. The risk of them hitting Earth may be small, but they would be devastating if they did. Had it been on a true collision course with Earth, we would have been powerless to stop it. Brown said Asteroid 2019 OK proves there are "still risky asteroids out there that we don't know of" that "can arrive on our doorstep unannounced". It flew closer than the Moon is to Earth, reaching within 222,164 miles of the surface of our planet - the Moon is 238,900 miles away.

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