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Arizona NASA project reports large asteroid passes close to Earth

(Unsplash.com Photo/Andrew Ruiz)

Here we go again! It seems that we read that headline all too often — large asteroid passes near Earth.

What is going on in the space around Earth?

There are some 1,900 objects which astronomers describe as potentially hazardous asteroids. They are described as asteroids, which are at least 100 meters in diameter and come within some 4.6 million miles of the earth.

These listed asteroids have orbits that are calculated and we know with some specificity, the dates and times of close encounters with Earth.

Lucky for us, we have no specific asteroid calculated to be on a direct path to hit the earth.

I find that encouraging, knowing the total number of asteroids which lurk in the darkness of the solar system.

There have been impacts in recorded history, some large and many smaller events, too.

One recent event needs to be explored in detail. On April 15, astronomers at the Arizona-based Catalina Sky Survey, reported the passage on a rather large asteroid with a diameter upwards of the size of a football field.

What makes this discovery very interesting is the fact that the object was only discovered a day before its closest passage to Earth.

The object has been catalogued as asteroid 2018 GE 3.

This asteroid came within 119,000 miles of the Earth and has been described as the largest asteroid of its kind to come that close to Earth in recorded history.

Many smaller asteroids have come much closer to Earth and have continued on into space.

One of the closest asteroid passages to Earth, was the small 1 meter rock, listed as asteroid 2011 CQ1, which passed Earth by the amazing close distance of some 7,300 miles.

2018 GE3 is listed as a Apollo type asteroid. Apollo class asteroids are a sub class of asteroids which have orbits which have a semi-major axis greater than Earth and a perihelion distance (closest point to the Sun), or less than the Earth.

They were discovered by the German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s, when he discovered the classic Apollo asteroid; 1862 Apollo.

2018 GE 3 was traveling at least 66,000 miles per hour when it made its close encounter with the Earth on April 15.

To place the importance on the size of this space rock, it is thought that the great Arizona Meteor crater near Flagstaff, was created by a space rock, some 200 feet in diameter, just like the reported size of 2018 GE 3.

Look what that object did to the landscape.

Back in 2013, a large asteroid with a diameter of only 66 feet, caused some 1,500 people to seek medical aid from the shock wave of the exploding object, this known as the Chelyabinsk event in Russia.

Even with all the great high technology that we have on Earth, this object was only discovered a day or so before its closest passage of Earth.

We need to keep alert for these type of events and hope that we are not in the crosshairs any time soon!

Sadly, there is not much that we could do if 2018 GE 3 was headed right for us.

Print your very own April 2018 star chart.

View satellites/dates/times of passage.

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