A newly discovered asteroid, about 10-meters (34 feet) wide, flew past Earth well withing the orbit of the Moon on December 19, 2015. After a much bigger, 650-meter (0.33 miles) wide asteroid that flew past Earth at about 1.3 LD on October 31, this is the second recent near-miss asteroid discovered just days before its closest approach.
The asteroid, initially named 2015 YB, was discovered on December 16. It made closest approach to our planet around 12:00 UTC today at about 59 220 km (36 800 miles) from the surface. For reference, the Moon orbits Earth at an average distance of 384 600 km (239 000 miles).
According to NASA's Near-Earth Object Program, the asteroid was flying at a speed of about 52 000 km/h (32 300 mph) relative to Earth.
This size comparison shows the size of asteroid 2015 YB as compared to professional soccer player Lionel "The Flea" Messi. Credit: Slooh Community Observatory
Below is a replay of the online Slooh Community Observatory webcast dedicated to today's asteroid. The host, Paul Cox, and Slooh Astronomer Bob Berman discussed why it is so difficult to track these fast moving objects, and the kind of damage it would cause were it to impact Earth, and why.
An asteroid of the similar size exploded in Earth's atmosphere above Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February 2013 injuring more than 1 000 people.
Featured image credit: SLOOH