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Wed Dec 12, 2012, 12:37 PM

Earth has a couple of 'near' misses

Posted on December 12, 2012 - 08:37 by Flora Malein

Over the past couple of days, two asteroids ‘2012 XE54’ and ‘4179 Toutatis’ passed close to Earth.

4179 Toutatis, a lumpy shaped asteroid which is roughly 3 miles (5 km) long, is classified as a potentially hazardous object (PHO) by astronomers and has passed closed to Earth several times before, in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. PHOs are asteroids or comets with orbits that come within less than 19.5 lunar distances, 4.6 million miles from Earth’s orbit (one lunar distance is the distance between the moon and earth) ...

Astronomers also identified another close fly by from an asteroid known as ‘2012 XE54’ on December 11. At an estimated 72-160 feet, XE54 is a much smaller specimen than Toutatis, but passed much closer at a distance of just 140,000 miles from Earth. The asteroid came so close that it crossed Earth’s shadow causing a partial eclipse of the asteroid making it disappear briefly in the night sky before reappearing ...


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