|Asteroid 2012 LZ1 (NASA)|
Asteroid 2012 LZ1, a gigantic asteroid classified as "potentially hazardous," is "about the same size" as lasts year's Asteroid 2005 YU55 that came within 202,000 miles from Earth whereupon no asteroid as big had come so close to Earth since 1976.
However, the newly-discovered 1,650-foot-wide Asteroid 2012 LZ1 passed farther from Earth than Asteroid 2005 YU55 and was never close enough to threaten Earth, or to be seen by most backyard skywatchers. During its closest approach at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, the near-Earth asteroid came within 3.3 million miles, about 14 times the distance between Earth and the moon.
The Slooh Space Camera, an online observatory website, streamed live views of LZ1's flyby that were captured by a telescope in the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa.
Although Asteroid 2012 LZ1 never posed much of an impact threat, Slooh Space Camera president Patrick Paolucci said it should still be considered a close brush in astronomical terms.
"It's relatively big and it's pretty close. We talk about distances — 14 moon distances might [seem] pretty far away, but actually it's pretty close," he said in Thursday night's webcast.
Bob Berman, an analyst from Astronomy Magazine, added that the event was "scary" and somehow a wake-up call for astronomers, who only discovered the LZ1 this week.
"The word space certainly means there's room up there, but now it's almost like we're dodging bullets here and there," he said during the webcast. "We thought things like this size, we'd easily detect more than just a few days before they zoom past us. This one is a little bit worse that we could see something the size of a city block and not detect it until just three days beforehand." FULL STORY...