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Bus-sized asteroid will whiz by Earth today, coming closer than the Moon

Published Feb 2nd, 2017 1:14PM EST
asteroid to hit earth 2017
Image: Hubble Space Telescope / ESA

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Earth-ending apocalypse movies always start with sky-gazers spotting an astroid that nobody knew about until it was too late. If the speedy space rock called 2017 BS32 was just 100,000 miles closer to our planet than it is, we’d have been in for an interesting afternoon, but thankfully the bus-sized body will just cruise by our planet instead of causing us any headache. What’s potentially worrisome, however, is that scientists only just spotted the rock, and it’s now the fourth asteroid to come within sniffing distance of our planet so far this year.

The astroid, which was only just discovered on January 30th, will be closer to the Earth than the Moon is when it makes its closest approach at approximately 3:23 PM EDT today. The rock is nearly 40 feet in diameter, and will be passing by at a distance of 101,214 miles, bringing it close enough to be seen by astronomers. In fact, the Slooh Observatory will be live streaming the astroid’s trip by our planet and answer questions from viewers who want to learn more.

As the fourth near-Earth asteroid (NEA) to swing by our planet so far in 2017, the arrival of 2017 BS32 is heightening the concern that one could actually strike our planet. “It raises a few eyebrows when we see a number of close approaching NEAs over such a short period of time,” Slooh Astronomer Paul Cox said in a press release. “We’ll investigate how this could be.”

At the present time, it’s thought that the sudden influx of near-Earth rocks making passes in 2017 is just a coincidence, however Cox told CNET that the repeated close calls “still surprise” the researchers.