LONDON (TIP): Unbeknown to most of us here on Earth, a huge asteroid the size of a double-decker bus hurtled past our planet over the weekend. Days after it was spotted by astronomers, the space rock passed within 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometres) of Earth, Space.com reported. And although it may sound like a large distance, the asteroid travelled within the Moon’s orbit, which on average takes the satellite 238, 855 miles (384,399 kilometres) away from Earth.
The asteroid, known a HL 129, was about 7.6 metres (25 feet) wide and made its closest approach to Earth at 4.13am EDT (8.13am GMT) on Saturday. Astronomers from the Mount Lemmon Survey team first spotted the rock on Wednesday, according to an alert by Minor Plant Center, which is part of the International Astronomical Union. Nasa scientists and researchers across the world keep a constant look-out for potentially dangerous asteroids that could crash into Earth – with deadly consequences.
Former astronaut Ed Lu said earlier this year that it was only “blind luck” that the planet had not suffered a catastrophic hit from an asteroid. He told Wired.co.uk: “While most large asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire country or continent have been detected, less than 10,000 of the more than a million dangerous asteroids with the potential to destroy an entire major metropolitan area have been found by all existing space or terrestriallyoperated observatories.
“Because we don’t know where or when the next major impact will occur, the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid has been blind luck.” In 2013 over 1,000 people were injured after an asteroid exploded above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.