Asteroid 2012 DA14 buzzes, misses Earth -- unlike meteor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - 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 assured the public the asteroid, which they began tracking in 2012, would pose no threat to the Earth.

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

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.

At the Warkoczewski Public Observatory on the campus of UMKC, Astronomer Joe Wright said he would host a group of stargazers tonight to watch the asteroid speed away from earth.

"A close encounter like this is always exciting, maybe to get a little bit better information on one: imagery, pictures," Wright said.  "Anytime we can get something closer to look at than farther away, that's really nice."

 

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