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A 'Potentially Hazardous' Asteroid Is Whizzing Past Earth Tonight

Science Photo Library – ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI

Apparently, they’ll let anybody on the “potentially hazardous asteroids” list these days. An asteroid named 2016 NF23, which is larger in diameter than the Great Pyramid of Giza is tall and traveling at a cool 20,000 m.p.h., made headlines last week for its trajectory—one that puts our pale blue dot right in its path. Well, kinda. After dubbing the asteroid “potentially hazardous,” NASA had to step in to remind us we’ve got nothing to worry about.

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2016 NF23 is expected to pass within 0.03377 astronomical units of Earth Wednesday, August 29 in the early morning hours. That may sound close, but it’s approximately a 3-million-mile distance from the planet we call home. Our sun is 93 million miles away, for reference; the moon is almost 240,000 miles away. At 500 feet in diameter, consider our chances of meeting the space rock extremely slim.

NASA planetary defense officer Lindley Johnson, in addition to having a cooler job title than you, cleared the air about any potential doomsday scenarios, telling, “There is nothing hazardous to Earth or even unique about this pass of the asteroid.” NASA just calls all asteroids within a certain distance “potentially hazardous.” Harsh!

For now, we’ll have to stick to destroying the planet ourselves.

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