We may not have noticed, but on Thursday afternoon an asteroid 100 feet in diameter, the size of a small office building, made the closest approach ever recorded to the Earth, missing us by one-tenth of the distance between here and the Moon. It was discovered only two days ago.

Jeff Hecht writes in New Scientist that the previous record for a near-miss occurred on September 27, 2003, when asteroid 2003 SQ222 missed the earth by about twice that distance. We didn’t know about that one until it already passed us by, since it came from inside the Earth’s orbit.
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Amateur astronomers can receive awards of $3,000 for discovering and tracking asteroids that may impact the Earth, according to new legislation approved by the House of Representatives. While this is great, with our recent near-misses, it would be more reassuring if the government would allocate enough money to hire professional astronomers to do the job.
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It has just been revealed that on January 13, astronomers came within a few minutes of telling the world that an asteroid was about to impact the Earth. Asteroid expert Clark Chapman says it was a “nine-hour crisis.” It was an amateur astronomer who finally figured out it wasn’t going to hit us.
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U.S. astronomers are warning of a possible asteroid collision with the Earth in 2014. They’ve discovered a large, fast-approaching asteroid that could hit the earth on March 21st of that year?but the chances of it happening are almost one in a million.

The rock measures approximately two thirds of a mile across, which is one-tenth the size of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and it’s traveling at a speed of about 20 miles per second. It’s been labeled “2003 QQ 47.” Astronomer Christine McGourty says, “In theory, such an asteroid could cause devastation across an entire continent.”
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