Are we due for an asteroid strike? You'd never know it, but yesterday at 13:44 Universal time, a small asteroid came within 40,000 miles of the Earth.
Late word out of the IAU's Minor Planet Center: a small asteroid will pass close to Earth tomorrow (March 2nd) at 13:44 Universal Time. How close? The MPC's Timothy Spahr calculates that it'll be 0.00047 astronomical unit from Earth's center. That's only about 40,000 miles (63,500 km) up — well inside the Moon's orbit and roughly twice the altitude of most communications satellites!But that is not the bad news. The asteroid just showed up 2 days ago when it was only 1.5 million miles away.
This little cosmic surprise, designated 2009 DD45, turned up two days ago as a 19th-magnitude blip in images taken by Rob McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. It was already within 1½ million miles of Earth and closing fast.In 1908, an asteroid just 3 times larger than 2009 DD45 hit Siberia. It is known as the Tunguska event. Look at the effects of that explosion: