"Asteroid Falling to Earth" by State Farm is licensed under CC BY 2.0

How Astronomers Missed the Massive Asteroid That Just Whizzed Past Earth

Jul 29, 2019

By Yasemin Saplakoglu

A large asteroid just whizzed past our planet — and astronomers weren’t expecting it.

Ranging in size from 187 to 427 feet (57 to 130 meters) wide, the space rock named 2019 OK snuck up on us Thursday morning (July 25). It swung as close as 45,000 miles (73,000 kilometers) from Earth, what one astronomer told The Washington Post was “uncomfortably close.”.

If the asteroid had actually collided with Earth, the crash would have caused devastating damage, Michael Brown, an associate professor in astronomy at Monash University in Australia, wrote in The Conversation.

Astronomers in Brazil and the United States separately discovered 2019 OK a couple of days ago, but it’s surprise visit was only announced a couple of hours before it passed by. “The lack of warning shows how quickly potentially dangerous asteroids can sneak up on us,” Brown wrote. And though this asteroid “is not a threat to Earth right now,” other such near-Earth asteroids can be.

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