An asteroid the size of a school bus narrowly missed Earth on Saturday, passing closer than the distance between the Earth and the moon, Space.com revealed.
The 25-foot-wide asteroid, known as 2014 HL129, came within 186,000 miles of Earth’s surface. That’s about 53,000 miles closer than the average distance between Earth and the moon.
If an asteroid of that size were to collide with our planet, it could destroy a small city. Its impact would be roughly half that of the nuclear bomb that leveled Hiroshima in 1945, according to Mail Online.
Asteroid 2014 HL129 was discovered Wednesday, April 29, by scientists with the Mt. Lemmon Survey team, an arm of the International Astronomical Union that records asteroid discoveries. The telescope they use to spot asteroids is located in Arizona's Catalina Mountains.
The asteroid made its closest pass by Earth around 4:13 a.m. EDT. Astronomers say although it was a close call, the asteroid posed no threat.
NASA’s Asteroid Watch tweeted about the near encounter late Saturday, adding that such flybys are “not all that uncommon.”
@dennert Actually, a small asteroid safely passed Earth about 8/10 the distance of our moon. It's not all that uncommon.
— Asteroid Watch (@AsteroidWatch) May 4, 2014
As of May 2, 2014, astronomers have identified nearly 11,000 near-Earth objects, comets and asteroids travelling in our planet’s neighborhood, according to NASA. About 8 percent of them are asteroids whose diameters are 1 kilometer, or .62 miles, or larger.
Astronomers have categorized 1,469 of near-Earth asteroids as “potentially hazardous.”
In Feb. 2013, a near-Earth asteroid known as 2012 DA14, whose diameter is roughly 100 feet, passed within 17,200 miles of the Earth’s surface. It set a record close approach for an object of this size.
Here’s a video simulation from NASA of Saturday’s close encounter with asteroid 2014 HL129: