Asteroid Buzzes, Misses Earth -- Unlike Meteor - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Asteroid Buzzes, Misses Earth -- Unlike Meteor

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The world is safe -- at least from one asteroid.

A 150-foot cosmic rock hurtled safely past Earth on Friday.

It was the closest known flyby for a rock of its size, passing within 17,000 miles. That's closer than some satellites. 

Nasa officials said the asteroid is traveling eight times faster than a rifle bullet. They say if it hit earth, it would be like the force of 2 million tons of dynamite.

Dan Ruby is the associate director at the Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno. He said the it is the closest an asteroid has come to earth.

"It's the closest since we started paying attention back in the 90's. It wasn't huge either, about 150 feet across. That's the size of a commercial airliner. It was big and that would be bad if that sort of thing hit the earth."

The flyby occurred just hours after a much smaller meteor exploded above Russia's Ural Mountains.

"That's what's really unusual about this," said Ruby. "These things are not unusual. Chunks of rock that size plow into the earth's atmosphere relatively often, but they happen where nobody is."

Astronomers say the two events were coincidental, and the objects were traveling in opposite directions. At least one scientist called it an exciting day and "like a shooting gallery here."

The asteroid was invisible to astronomers in the United States at the time of its closest approach on the opposite of the world. But in Australia, astronomers used binoculars and telescopes to watch the point of light speed across the clear night sky. (AP)


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