Huge space rock whips past planet
AN ASTEROID about the same size as a football field missed the Earth Tuesday by about 126,000 miles — about half the distance to the moon.
The asteroid, which is officially designated 2010 WC9, made its closest approach at 6:05 p.m. Eastern Time while traveling at 28,655 mph, according to the Minor Planet Center.
The interplanetary marauder measures roughly 200 by 400 feet, according to EarthSky.org.
While it isn’t exceptionally large, it’s rare for such an outsized space rock to venture so close to Earth. According to EarthSky.org, this was “one of the closest approaches ever observed of an asteroid of this size.”
The 2010 WC9 is larger than the estimated size of the Chelyabinsk meteor, which entered Earth’s atmosphere in 2013. Windows across six Russian cities were left shattered and some 1,500 people sought out medical assistance as a result.
Experts at The Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona first spotted the asteroid in 2010, but it was later lost when it “became too faint to see,” according to Earth Sky.