Bus-sized asteroid just misses Earth

2012-01-28 17:00

Washington - An asteroid about the size of a bus shaved by Earth on Friday in what space watchers described as a "near miss", though experts were not concerned about the possibility of an impact.

The asteroid, named 2012 BX34, measured between 6m and 19m in diameter, said Gareth Williams, associate director of the US-based Minor Planet Centre which tracks space objects.

The asteroid, which had been unknown before it popped into view from a telescope in Arizona on Wednesday, came within about 60 000km of Earth on Friday at about 15:00 GMT, he said.

"It's a near miss. It makes the top 20 list of closest approaches ever observed," Williams told AFP.

Nasa had announced on Twitter on Thursday that the asteroid would "safely pass Earth on January 27".

Williams explained that since the asteroid was so small, it could only be detected when it was close to the Earth, but that the fly-by, while a surprise, was not terribly uncommon.

"This came about a sixth of the distance from the Moon," he said. "In the past year we have had some 30 objects that were observed to come within the orbit of the Moon."

  • braamc - 2012-01-28 17:23

    Plenty bus-sized humans living on earth, so not worried over asteroid

      Juan - 2012-01-28 17:42

      A bus-sized human that fits into a Maseratti, now that's astounding

      braamc - 2012-01-28 17:50

      @Juan, I agree, I have never even had opportunity to sit in one, will look better and feel much better in one than elephant Zuma

      Andries - 2012-01-28 20:48

      No, that size only fits in a police van - on the front seat.

      Ian - 2012-01-29 08:14

      The gogga's living on the asteroid see it differently, to them an earth sized planet just missed THEM!

      Louis - 2012-01-29 09:08

      Pity it missed the houses of crooks and thieves in Cape Town

  • Gareth - 2012-01-28 17:45

    With all the stuff flying by,its amazing it has not hit any of the planets,cos there is nothing stopping an asteroid from hitting another planet.

      Andries - 2012-01-28 20:51

      They get hit all the time, Gareth, and so does our moon but the impacts on the latter are mostly on the side away from earth - 2012-01-28 23:42

      Schoemaker-Levy impacts on Jupiter, Vredefort Astrobleme, Tswaing Crater...

  • Vegi - 2012-01-28 17:46

    Why worry, if the asteroid does hit the earth, those affected won't live to tell the tale. Anyway it is a matter of time before our planet is sucked into the expanding and heating Sun or it may be struck by this or that extra terrestial body before that happens. We don't need to worry because if that happens, no one will be left to clean the mess, as our planet may even be vaporized out of existence.

      henk63 - 2012-01-29 09:54

      We would be priviledged to be the witness of something like that. Think about it. Billions of people have lived & died and never saw anything spectacular, and here we are, witnessing the destruction of everything. We'll all be dead of course, but so we will be anyway, eventually.

  • Anthony - 2012-01-28 18:27

    And I prayed soo hard , that it would drop onto the balcony of the Vatican, tomorrow at 11.00am. I will pray harder next time !!!!!!

      Mark - 2012-01-28 18:38

      pray explain why?

      Anthony - 2012-01-29 04:46

      Ok, let me explain. I am religious, and at times pray for a better world. Why it should drop on the balcony of the Vatican ? I believe the pope is a criminal, who should be charged with crimes against humanity. For someone in his authority, to fly over Africa, 30 000 meters above the ground, where MILLIONS are suffering from Aids, and than say that the Church forbids the wearing of a condom while having sex, is one of the worst crimes imaginable. Also, as Head of the Roman Catholic Church, he is the one who is responsible for the THOUSANDS , no TEN THOUSANDS of cases of sexual abuse,mainly on youngsters, by HIS priests. If the ICC, can issue warants of arrests, for a number of political leaders, than why not for him??? But, I doubt it will happen, so I pray for a little miracle!!!!!

      Nibiru - 2012-01-29 07:18

      @Anthony There is perhaps no more loved and admired saint in the Catholic Church than Saint Anthony.

  • Leo - 2012-01-28 18:40

    God still has mercy on human kind, repent b4 it runs out!

      John - 2012-01-29 14:57

      God...what God...the God that creates us to experience hell on earth then sends us to hell!! The God that knows when he created us he knew exactly which path we would take. If he did not know which path we would take then he is not God.

  • Karmah - 2012-01-28 18:45

    ROFL... thats tiny.. if it did hit it would just burst into flames and disintegrate.. nothing to see here folks.. move along.

      Pierre - 2012-01-29 12:16

      Schucks, I don’t want to be your boyfriend with comments like that!

  • Jacques Joubert - 2012-01-28 19:02

    I agree with u Vegi. I if it so happens tht we were 2 b struck with a reasonable sized asteroid of atleast the size of Kilimanjaro in any of our seas, it wud have enough power 2 generate a tidal wave- 100metres high to travel 160kmh around the world. Its like throwing a stone in the pond and watch it hop :)

      henk63 - 2012-01-29 09:58

      Kilimanjaro? I don't share your confidence in the stability of our planet. Anyway, how can we ever know?

  • Charmaine - 2012-01-28 19:20

    Good to be informed.

  • Trevor - 2012-01-28 21:02

    Was it single..or Double bekker bus?????

  • mike.clery - 2012-01-28 21:33

    Are they sure it wasn't just a taxi doing a wide overtaking maneuver?

  • wernervanaswegen - 2012-01-28 23:17

    I love the scale these guys use. Near miss = a sixth of the distance to the moon. In my book a near miss would be an asteroid bounced of the Earth's atmosphere! By the same logic I was almost run over by a car driving down a road in the CT even though I was walking down a road in JHB. - 2012-01-28 23:45

      It is a question of terminology, what would you call it if it went the otherside of the moon, close to mars, near Jupiter and then Youranus?

  • Mboneni - 2012-01-29 07:40

    There is stil much we do not know about our planet and its invirons thats why objects are only seen while in motion and we do not know from which planet the objects are coming and what happened to that planet

  • Winsome - 2012-01-29 09:03

    Had 2 bus sized passengers sitting next to me on the flight from UK; I was squashed into the corner up against the window of the plane, and didn't have the use of my right arm rest - most uncomfortable flight EVER!.

  • pws69 - 2012-01-29 09:48

    In celestial terms, a near miss could be a galaxy away, depending on how much of the universe (multiverse?) you use as a measure. Just saying ;-)

  • henk63 - 2012-01-29 09:49

    What is it with these people. A week ago they had us diving for cover with the sun flare, only to announce afterwards that we were "lucky". Now we were "lucky" again. Are they scaremongering in hope of a bigger budget?

  • Etienne - 2012-01-29 10:27

  • Andre - 2012-01-29 10:32

    I thought I saw a bus flying past me the other day and was wondering whether I was mistaken, but apparently I was totally wrong!

  • Paul - 2012-01-29 22:13

    It's quite scary to think that they only spotted this asteroid 2 days before it shaved by the earth. But then after the great flood, God did say "never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done" (Gen 8:21). And "He (Jesus) is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (Col 1:17). So I can sleep well at night knowing that God is in control not fate.

  • Victor - 2012-01-30 07:56

    reply to Anthony Not to mention that the pope was also a member of the Hitler Youth !!!!!

  • Pieter - 2012-01-30 08:44

    People really have a limited grasp of basic physics here. A bus sized asteroid would impact with the force of a Tsar Bomb (50 Megatons) and level a large city, providing it retains that same size during atmospheric entry which asteroids don't often do. Meteorotic impact is one of the most devestating forces our planet experiences. There is no such thing as "speed" in space. It is infinite as long as there is a constant increase in acceleration. As Newton said, "An object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside source." If you throw a ball on Earth it is acted upon by both gravity and wind resistance and friction, thus it slows down and falls. You throw a ball in space it will keep going indefinately untill it falls into a planet's orbital pull or hits something else. What does this have to do with an asteroid? Well, when an asteroid enters our atmosphere it is still travelling at the velocity it reached before entering our atmosphere, only slowing down marginally. That could be 100 kilometres per hour, it could 100 kilometres PER SECOND. The velocity it moves at dictates the force it hits with. A small ball-bearing fired at the speed of light (300 000 kilometres per second, 1080 MILLION kilometres per hour) would impact with the force of a 250 Gigaton nuke (aka enough to sink a continent the size of Africa and trigger every faultline on the planet). Classic F=ma (Force - mass - acceleration) at work here.

  • Fredster - 2012-01-30 09:15

    Who names these asteroids? 2012 BX34... I mean, are they ever going to see it again, and how would they recognise it...Americans. I suppose it sounds good..LOL

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