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In terms of a family car vacation, the ancient asteroid that flew by Earth Friday may have seemed far away — 17,200 miles.
In astronomical terms, however, Asteroid 2012 AD 14 was actually very close, much closer, for example, than the Moon’s 239,000 miles. And computer projections of that asteroid’s Earth-like orbit into the future currently forecast an upcoming earthly encounter of the explosive kind. More on that disastrous possibility in a minute.
This asteroid was spotted by Spanish astronomers about a year ago. It’s one of an estimated 500,000 near-Earth objects, only one percent of which have been cataloged. It’s about half the size of a football field in length and from a distance looks much like a pumice stone.
A meteorite (which is what asteroids are called after entering Earth’s atmosphere) that severely rattled Russians Friday morning was merely coincidental to the flyby. Ever heard a major meteor explosion? Turn up your volume and watch this video