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. chezchas

    Typo: The objects will visible from Earth...

    September 8, 2010 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. jesse vidriales

    Hope it lands right on top of a tea party rally

    September 8, 2010 at 3:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Why do you think that will divert money from Obama the clown and his rich bailout buddies?

      September 8, 2010 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. 2010 RF12

    I'll get you on my next pass, I swear it!

    September 8, 2010 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |

    Our solar system is enshrouded in clouds of intensely dense debris field of galactic clouds we're passing thru, as foreseen by the remote view of Jimi Hendrix and explained in the book Rock Prophecy. When Obama was informed of the 2 new asteroids on Monday he went to Millwaukee and quoted Hendrix "Stone Free" in his speech – "Stone" as in ROCK rolling free in space (google: obama hendrix labor day). The ENTIRE "2012" fad is a TOTAL RIP OFF of the 1995 book Rock Prophecy, which is being concealed and suppressed by the Microsoft founders who persecute the author of that book. They ordered their DreamWorks media empire to instigate the craze for "2012" as the END of the Maya calendar because Rock Prophey book explains the START of the Maya calendar with an asteroid impact. The Rock website is surfacing all of the evidence that MSM is ordered to censor and suppress.

    September 8, 2010 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. truthtelr

    If anyone is interested in real news look up the info on the meteor that just struck columbia a few days ago. why wasn't that on cnn? listen to me people.....

    September 8, 2010 at 3:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. Samantha

    it is on the news, just not the news you read. if you read tmz all day you get fluff if you read cnn you get distilled versions of anything they don't have exclusive coverage on. it is all what you put in your head friends. information is like food.

    here is a tid bit, if you want general space news from a nasa scientist, go here if you want to see what might be flying toward us, go to the near bottom of the page and read "Near Earth Asteroids
    Potentially Hazardous Asteroids"

    September 8, 2010 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. Chuck

    Obama pays a few billion to "BAILOUT" his rich much is Obama the clown willing to pay to bailout the planet?

    My guess not a dime since asteroids and meteors don't vote or make campaign contributions.

    September 8, 2010 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Give it a rest. Obama has been ten times the president Bush was.

      September 8, 2010 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck


      That is a good one...I have to write that down....Oh your serious...hmmmm....gotta get you that help group for people that are still in denial about wasting their's ok though your not alone...almost...but you can be helped.

      You can't whine about no $$$ for space exploration and space observation and still support the guy that is killing the space program ya wonder you were dumb enough to vote for the big moron.

      September 8, 2010 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
    • BOMARC507

      Hey Chuck, three questions:

      (1) Who put in place policies and "tax cuts" so that MORE "wealthy" people got RICHER during their time as President in office:
      George W. Bush or Barack Obama?

      (2) What makes you think the United States (and its President) should be the ONLY government trying to save the entire planet Earth? (with who's tax money?)

      (3) Even if there was a "United Space" organization, what would YOU suggest they do to avert an object hitting the Earth?

      September 8, 2010 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. Tom

    What I find alarming is that we only discovered them 3 day before they were to pass by us. If they were on a collision course with earth it whould have been too late to do anything about it. Their small size probably wouldnt do much damage but if they hit a major city alot of people could get hurt or killed. A big meteor could of course kill alot more people and there is a very good chance that there is a big meteor which is or will be on a collision course with earth. We need to be able to identify such objects in time to do somthing about them. A best case scenario would be to know years ahead of time giving us the enough time to potentially change the trajectory of the object so it doesnt even hit earth.

    September 8, 2010 at 3:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      I totally agree with you, BUT lets face it.....the space programs are being cut all the time. The reality is that the governments need to get together and that will never happen and the spending on things like failed bailouts to rich campaign contributors seem to be a higher priority. No chance this administration will do anything about it....maybe whover is still around after the meteor hits will think seriously about the planet and not personal gains....


      September 8, 2010 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      You do know that asteroids of such size and trajectory "pass us by" everyday, right? I don't even know why this one is news. The chances of something like that hitting a major urban area and doing damage are pretty close to zero due to a number of factors, from tiny fraction of earth being populated to atmospheric protection to particulars of celestial mechanics. You might get a decent size hit every couple of centuries, but they in all likelihood be over ocean or unpopulated areas. Just because we have developed the technology to detect them in your lifetime does not suddenly make them a real risk.

      September 8, 2010 at 4:49 am | Report abuse |
    • another Tom

      If they find one on a collision course, they probably wouldn't say anything unless they could tell exactly where it would hit. 3 days warning to evacuate a city would be tough, but to panic an entire country or state, would be kind of crazy. They would probably just warn their friends and family, and break out the Bud Light. "Here we go."

      September 8, 2010 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  9. Guest

    Still trying to make a Pass at me when all you really need to do is bring the car around.

    September 8, 2010 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mark5

    It is time to take this seriously.Instead of fighting wars that divide us, we should instead be joining together to save our doomed planet. Now is the time to throw down our weapons and all nations get together to build a missile defense asteroid shield for earth. So say we all.

    September 8, 2010 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chuck

    Changed my mind Tom...your delusional at best.

    September 8, 2010 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. William B. Doyle

    2024, not 2012. Calculations are off a bit. "Wormwood" is coming...the whole reason for Hubble and NASA’s "Near Earth Program". And NO, they're not gonna tell anyone except those with moolah.

    September 8, 2010 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
  13. jw

    There will be increasing natural disasters as the time for the world system of human government comes to a close. They are warnings for all of humankind to turn away from personal sins, and to seek God's forgiveness. He promises a new life in His Kingdom, which will never end, for those who choose to believe in Jesus Christ and who will repent of all wrongdoing. Eternal life will be given as a free gift, as well as forgiveness for all sins committed. This is our Ark, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. "Come to Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "For God so loved the world, that He gave us His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but will have eternal life."

    September 8, 2010 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Thank you for your emotional appeal. There is one problem, emotional appeals are a no no to a nanu nanu.

      September 8, 2010 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • SteveM

      Funny how these kinds of stories seem to bring out the ignorant morons with their stupid religious posts.

      September 8, 2010 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Phil

    What direction are well looking in?

    September 8, 2010 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jason

    So the larger of these two asteroids could be a maximum of 65 feet wide...I hate to sound like the cynical fool, but, big deal. Of course asteroids hitting the earth can make an impact area much larger than the asteroid, but even if this particular asteroid was at a maximum size of 65 feet, would anything of it even survive Earth's atmosphere? And if it did survive the atmosphere it'd be greatly diminished and do little damage. I'm not saying this isn't interesting, but people shouting doomsday over these silly little sky-rocks is ridiculous. I guess CNN needed a story.

    September 8, 2010 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Kris Wood

      More like NASA needed a forum to whine about funding in election season and CNN said "ZOMG ASTUROIDS?!"

      September 8, 2010 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
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