September 7th, 2010
09:28 PM ET

Two asteroids to pass close to Earth on Wednesday

Two small asteroids in unrelated orbits will pass within the moon's distance of the Earth on Wednesday, according to NASA.

It's an unusual event that shows the need for closer monitoring of near space for Earth-threatening encounters, a scientist with the program said.

The objects don't pose a threat to Earth, and they will not be visible to the naked eye, said Donald Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near Earth Program, which tracks potentially hazardous asteroids and comets within 28 million miles of Earth.

The objects will visible from Earth as tiny specks of light with the help of moderate-sized amateur telescopes, he said.

Near-Earth asteroid 2010 RX30, which is estimated to be 32 to 65 feet in size, will pass within 154,000 miles of Earth at 5:51 a.m. ET Wednesday. The second object, 2010 RF12, estimated to be 20 to 46 feet in size, will pass within 49,088 miles of Earth at 5:12 pm ET.

In case you were wondering, that means the two asteroids will pass within 0.6 and 0.2 lunar distances from the Earth, respectively. The first will be closest to Earth over the north Pacific, and the second, over Antarctica.

Roughly 50 million objects pass through near-Earth space each day, Yeomans said. But what makes this situation noteworthy is that these two asteroids are passing so close to Earth on the same day and that NASA spotted them so far in advance.

"Things like this happen every day that we simply don’t know about because we don’t have the telescopes large enough to find them or surveys that are looking full-time," he said. "This demonstrates the system's working on some level, but we need larger telescopes and more of them to find objects that are coming this close."

The Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, discovered both objects Sunday morning during a routine monitoring of the skies, NASA said.

The Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, first received the observations Sunday morning, determined preliminary orbits and concluded both objects would pass within the distance of the moon about three days later.

Yeomans described the discovery as a warning shot in a field of study of low-probability events that have global, high-impact consequences. He said that it was only when scientists began looking for near-Earth objects in the 1990s that they realized there was a "problem."

"We have only recently appreciated how many of these objects are in near Earth's space and [it's] best that we keep track of them and find them," he said. "I think this is Mother Nature's way of firing a shot over the bow and warning Earth-based astronomers that we have a lot of work to do."

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Filed under: Earth • Space
soundoff (361 Responses)
  1. Name*Mando

    People those of you who want this rock to hit the middle east, you donkeys are dumb that's were mostly all the oil we love consume comes from.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Gasguzzler

      It would be worth it!

      September 8, 2010 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. macoirus

    Name'Mando so do you think you know everything? Like evolution, have you prooved it yet? I in fact have disproven it. the answer lies in your watch. hahaha you fat moron, i hope a barrel of oil falls on your face and then this meteor scraps the side of the garbage can you live in

    September 8, 2010 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  3. MXD

    49,000 miles is VERY close for a meteor of that size. A 40 foot diameter rock would certainly NOT burn up in the atmosphere. Interesting that this story is missing the paragraph where it talks about what kind of damage a rock that size could do. As someone said, the 2 mile-wide crater in Arizona was caused by a rock about 100-150 feet in diameter. And thermonuclear explosions don't leave a crater anywhere NEAR that size. So a 40 foot rock might easily mirror a large tonnage Hydrogen bomb – plenty to wipe out the NY City metro area – and 4-8 million people, if it hit in Central Park.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Name*Mando

      A thermonuclear bomb is a hydrogen bomb aka fission bomb. Basically atoms are fused together.

      September 8, 2010 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Veggiedude

      This is not about meteors. It is about planetoids or asteroids.

      September 8, 2010 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Erm, a thermonuclear bomb is a FUSION bomb. It is initiated by a FISSION bomb, which is known as a nuclear bomb or atomic bomb.

      September 8, 2010 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • BOMARC507

      Hey MXD, there are 72 "Declassified U.S. Nuclear Test Films" on

      Suggest you watch some of them, particularly "Declassified US Nuclear Test Film #13", and review what you currently believe about the size of a crater created by a thermonuclear device.

      September 8, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. raj

    Hey Crazy Guy on street, News Flash we're all gonna die in either way! lol... Some people

    September 8, 2010 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Drew

    I assure everyone that when an extinction-level asteroid is headed towards Earth, you won't know about it and really, it's probably for the better.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
    • macoirus

      do you think bacteria in your toilet have an emergency newscast when you step into the bathroom?

      September 8, 2010 at 1:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. The Count

    Lets not give these guys any more money to do more "research". Who wants to know how many millions of objects pass close to earth. Lets all pray to the almighty – he/she will save us, and its a lot cheaper to pray.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • macoirus

      i take exception the "She". god is a man. how else would it be possible for god to have dominion over the universe?

      September 8, 2010 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Rock God

      God is a she. Only females can create life.

      September 8, 2010 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Bunky

      I agree. God must be a man. Accounts for the total screw up.

      September 8, 2010 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Derek C.

      Prayer won't do anything. Simple as that. We could have "prayed" that God would take revenge on those who were responsible for 9/11. But no, we did something about it. We could have "prayed" that God would eradicate smallpox, but we did something about it. But you are welcome to continue doing so.

      September 8, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. k

    I hope they strike earth

    September 8, 2010 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  8. macoirus

    libtards, i wanted to set the record straight... obama didnt end the war in Iraq. It was Bush that made a deal with the president of Iraq to have combat troops out... just wanted you all to know that since it wasnt that clear on CNN

    September 8, 2010 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Immegresh

      Well he was the one who started the hole thing and it does not matter who planed the wars end cause you never can say when it is over in fact it is not realy over i think....
      anyway what does this has to do with this artical ?

      September 8, 2010 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
  9. DorisKoots

    Everything thats happening around our world is so important to us. Everyday I hear on the news about politics, and they think they are the important issue on earth. But, its us humans, mankind that are important! Its so distraught to hear about this at the last minute. What were they going to do? Tell everyone here on earth that their going to die in a few minutes or hours? This is not acceptable to everyone! We have rights and we expect to hear and know about every disasters that go on on this world! CONFUSED!

    September 8, 2010 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. Veggiedude

    But what could be done about it? What's the point of knowing when there is no strategy or funds to do anything??? I guess relocate populations? Nope, not gonna work.

    September 8, 2010 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      For these asteroids, not much could be done. However, if the asteroids can be detected far enough in advance, there are several available options for deflecting them. That's why more money is needed for this research.

      September 8, 2010 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. Name*Mando

    50 thousand miles of empty space in space is like comparing 1mm in earth volume...

    September 8, 2010 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Immegresh

      we don"t know how big the universe is so how can we compare that?

      September 8, 2010 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
  12. Yankee Thunder

    Maybe it will hit DC and spare us the next 2 years of Obummer.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ramon F Herrera

    They forgot to answer one of the most important question: What kind of damage would each make in the eventuality that they hit a city?

    September 8, 2010 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
    • mm

      Does it really matter to know in advance. You can't stop it and may not be able to get out of the way.

      September 8, 2010 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      What city? And I don't mean to name one. I mean if an object that size "hit" a city, it'd be "what city".

      September 8, 2010 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Ramon F Herrera

      I guess Manhattan is the standard. Location: Central Park. They should develop some sort of unit, like kilotons and megatons are based on the tons of TNT? They also use Hiroshima as a reference.

      September 8, 2010 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. S.Colbert

    The Earth has been struck before. Whatever. So everything is extinct and something evolves again. Humans can't take a asteroid hit, but the Earth can. Why spend money to prevent our demise? I'd rather whoop it up now.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
    • sam

      r u really colbert? HAHA show me the proof

      September 8, 2010 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. LPM

    All you need is it to hit in the right spot in Yellowstone and not only will you see the destructive force of that rock but it just might set off a super volcano.

    September 8, 2010 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
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