At 9:24 p.m. EDT on 27 August 2016, an asteroid hurtled by Earth at just 0.22 the Earth-moon distance, just hours after it was discovered, as noted by scientists at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Minor Planet Center:
Asteroid 2016 QA2 discovered. Flyby Aug 28 at 01:24 UT. Dist: 0.23 LD (0.22 LD from Earth surface). Size: 16-52 m. https://t.co/yBx2qOUEp5
— Minor Planet Center (@MinorPlanetCtr) August 28, 2016
According to EarthSky.org:
The rock is estimated to be at least twice as big as the Chelyabinsk meteor that penetrated the atmosphere over Russia in February, 2013.
According to the Minor Planet Center, closest approach to Earth occurred August 28 at 01:24 UTC (9:24 p.m. EST on August 27; translate to your time zone). The asteroid has an estimated size of 111.5 feet (34 meters), although its exact dimension can range between 52-171 feet (16 to 52 meters).
The speeding space rock came considerably closer than the moon, as it passed at just 0.22 the Earth-moon distance. That’s about 52,580 miles (84,619 km) away. For comparison, the moon is located at some 239,000 miles (384,633 km) from Earth.
The asteroid was first spotted by the Southern Observatory for Near Earth Asteroids Research (SONEAR) in Oliveira, Brazil. The last time that an object entering Earth’s atmosphere made headlines was in February 2013, when a meteor exploded 12 miles over the ground, breaking windows and causing injuries. Video from that incident can be seen here: