Don’t Panic! Two Asteroids Avoid Near Earth Collision

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Amateur astronomer newsgroups and other space related newsgroups are abuzz with the recent finding from NASA scientists that said one of two small asteroids passed between the Earth and the moon on Wednesday.

The first one passed by early Wednesday morning. The second rock, estimated to be 20 by 46 feet long, is on the same course and is scheduled to pass late Wednesday afternoon.

On our side to help us from these dangers of the Universe,  Asteroid hunters at the CfA monitor and research what these asteroids may or may not do,

According to their calculations, the asteroids will not clash with Earth but they will pass our planet at a relatively close distance.  The asteroids will be visible from amateur telescopes.

The first one, 2010 RX 30, is at least 30 meters long. Its closest pass: about 154,000 miles. That’s 40 percent closer than the Moon. The second asteroid, 2010 RF 12, is about 20 meters long; it will miss us by a mere 49,000 miles. That’s about 80 percent closer than the Moon.

Once every 10 years, one of those 10-meter asteroids sails into the atmosphere. Most of  them burn up – but every now and then, a space rock comes swooping down and burns up through our atmosphere without causing any significant damage.

The second asteroid pass won’t be visible to the naked eye. However, as it has been reported on USENET, it can be seen through an amateur telescope.

It’s unknown exactly how much damage such objects would do if they did hit Earth. On space newsgroups, published reports of simulations showing that a 30 to 50 meter asteroid could cause substantial damage to Earth’s surface by depositing energy several kilometers up in the atmosphere, and causing a jet of expanding gas to plunge to the ground.

A large meteorite exploded above Siberia a hundred years ago – and flattened 80 million trees. The last time a really big asteroid hit the Earth was about 700 B.C. in what’s now Estonia.

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