We almost got cold cocked by an asteroid, yo

Two days ago, astronomers spotted a new asteroid. Early this morning, the sonofabitch nearly hit our planet.


  1. It’s closest approach was 18x farther away from earth than the moon is. In astronomical terms “close” but “nearly hit our planet” is a little hysterical, donchathink?

    1. The second paragraph of the article:

      “…came within 140,000 miles (230,000 kilometers) of our planet at about 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT) Tuesday (Dec. 11), researchers said. For comparison, the moon orbits Earth at an average distance of 240,000 miles or so (386,000 km)”

      Where did the “18x farther away than the moon” figure come from?

      1. Still 20 diameters away. Maybe discount it to 15 or so because it only really has to come close enough for our gravitational field to suck it in. And its only 36 metres across so it might not have survived aerobraking. Its not up to the standards of Tunguska.

        1. ?

          Where did “diameters” come from? We’re talking about the distance from the earth to the moon.

          230,000/386,000 does not equal 20.

    2. Just like you I thought that article is about Toutatis. Then I actually read it. Spoiler alert: It isn’t.

  2. Well, it’s pretty clear the thing is just circling in for a landing in nine days.  Nice knowing y’all!

    1. All of humanity, perhaps. But life has survived asteroid impacts several times larger than this “near miss”.

      In some ways a new extinction event would be the best thing to happen to this planet.. it’d certainly get rid of a lot of the problems us humans waste our days wringing our hands over.

      1. Life will find a way.

        However, this more-or-less organized group of cells likes their current configuration. Or, at least the ones near the top say so.

    2. Ha! It reminds me of a Larry Niven quote:

      “The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn’t have a space program.”

      1. I thought the Dinosaurs were destroyed by Gawd because they were having gay butt sex….and you know…Gawd hates faggz. 

  3. I liked it better when I didn’t know about giant rocks coming close to plummeting the only planet I have to live on.

    1. “Knowing and not being able to fix it” is the unpleasant intermediate step between “helpless not knowing” and “being able to fix it.”

  4. Yo, that ass-steroid was all up in my grill and I said mofo, get back jack, and it was all like, hey man, I just chillin’ here for a while, don’t get all wild ass and shit, I’m leavin’ now. So now that sonofabitch didn’t hit our ass and it was because this is OUR hood!

  5. Can someone explain to me how, if NASA knows the orbit of this asteroid, why did they only know it was headed straight for us a mere two days before possible impact? I thought the question at this point was technology to deflect objects heading toward Earth, not, simply detecting them.

  6. (This was supposed to be a reply to Casual_Economy, but I goofed and submitted it as a reply to all.)

    From the article: “The near-Earth asteroid 2012 XE54, which was discovered Sunday (Dec. 9).”

    They just discovered it, so no one knew the orbit, and they still won’t have worked it out completely from such a brief observation.

    I’m a little ticked that I didn’t hear anything from @AsteroidWatch (JPL) about this until someone asked them on Twitter.

  7. The asteroid in question was about 120ft across, so it would have exploded in the atmosphere and destroyed an area about 800 miles across – most likely in the ocean. So don’t worry, humanity would have survived. Also 140,000 miles is quite far away for a 120ft object if you think about it.

  8. Comparing the area of the earth to the area of the circle within earth’s orbit, there’s less than 0.03% chance that any given asteroid passing between the earth and the moon would hit the earth. So saying that we “almost” got hit is a bit of an exaggeration…

    1. It’s true that the chances of us getting hit by “any given asteroid” are vanishingly small.  But there isn’t exactly a shortage of asteroids out there.  Just by looking at the surface of the moon with the near-naked eye, we can tell that extinction-level impacts are only a matter of time.

  9. I’m only here because I misread the title. 

    We Almost Got Gold Cocked by a….

    I was like WTF – I have never heard of the phrase “Gold Cocked” – I must investigate. 
    Oh my damn tired eyes trickEd meez. FACK.

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