spaceSpace and Physics

We Just Survived Another Skyscraper-Sized Asteroid Flying Past Earth


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

Dima Zel/Shutterstock

Oh my god there is another asteroid. Another one. Please wake me from this endless nightmare.

Once again an asteroid is in the news for passing kind of close to Earth. It hasn't hit us. But we’ve got plenty of alarming headlines doing the rounds, as always. Its size has been compared to everything from the Empire State Building to, uh, the Queen.  


When will this end? Are we doomed to hear about asteroids flying near Earth until one finally avoids observation long enough to slam undetected into our planet, bringing an end to this miserable endless asteroid-based existence where every day, every single day, there’s news of yet another space rock sort of near us in space, and we’re told it’s the size of seven elephants stitched together or maybe nine cars and if it hits us we’re all doomed to a fiery death in a raging inferno? Yes, we are.

So anyway here is some information on the New Rock. It is called 2017 VR12 and it was first spotted in November 2017. It is estimated to be about 500 meters (1,640 feet) across which is, yes, bigger than the Empire State Building (443 meters/1,454 feet) and much, much bigger than the Queen (1.63 meters/5.3 feet).

It is an Apollo-type asteroid, a class of 8,000 asteroids that cross our orbit regularly, and it orbits the Sun every 585 days. It passed our planet at a distance of 1.44 million kilometers (897,000 miles) earlier today and is now continuing its merry dance through the Solar System, but should be visible in the night sky to observers for most of the day.

2017 VR12 is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid by NASA, although that’s not too much to worry about. That includes any Rocks that exceed 500 feet (140 meters) in size and come closer than 7.5 million kilometers (4.6 million miles) to Earth. Which is, like, quite a lot. Including our New Rock.


This is the closest known pass of this asteroid until 2216, when it will come a little bit closer – but still not close enough to worry about. Everything is fine. I mean, there might be an asteroid with our name on it eventually. But for now, don’t panic.

You can panic, though, about this endless asteroid-induced nightmare we are stuck in. They will never stop. All of the asteroids. They are always coming, always flying past Earth. It is Armageddon but the asteroids never give up. They never surrender. All hail the asteroids.


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