A large asteroid about the size of a whale recently skimmed past Earth, and no one even noticed until it was long gone.
NASA and space experts do a pretty good job of spotting asteroids before they make it to Earth, but a lot of times we never even see them coming. That’s what happened recently when an asteroid that could have destroyed a city passed by Earth, and no one spotted it until it had left the area.
The space rock, named 2017 VL2 and about the size of a whale, passed just 73,000 miles from the Earth, which is about a third of the distance between the Earth and the moon. NASA astronomers spotted it the next day after it had passed nearby using the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii.
Astronomers found asteroid 2017 VL2 on Nov. 10, and determined it had blasted past Earth on Nov. 9. Alarmingly, if it had collided with Earth, it could have destroyed life within 3.7 miles of where it touched down. 2017 VL2 measured between 52 and 105 feet in diameter, and will make its way back into Earth’s vicinity in 2125.
They come from a group of asteroids called the Apollo asteroids, first observed by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s. There are more than 8,000 of those asteroids.