An asteroid discovered on Oct. 4 named 2012 TV zipped by Earth at 10:15 a.m. (CDT) this morning at a distance of 238,600 miles, a little closer than the moon. The approximately 120-foot-long space boulder is still out there but quickly receding from Earth’s vicinity. It’s already too dim to see even in large amateur telescopes.
Another recent find, asteroid 2012 TC4, will come even closer on the night of Oct. 11-12. At 11:57 p.m. (CDT) Oct. 11, the speedy visitor will book across the sky 59,000 miles from Earth’s surface. Because of its small size – about 45 to 90 feet across – it will appear as a very faint, fast-moving star in large amateur telescopes at that time. Earlier that evening, the viewing angle will be better and 2012 TC4 will shine brighter at magnitude 13.6. This will make it a decent catch in an scopes 8-inches. I’ll have more details on how to see soon.
2012 TC4 was discovered a little more than a week ago by the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System or PANSTARRS. Neither asteroid poses any threat to Earth. Small asteroids like these routinely fly through the neighborhood, and many have come closer. In June 2011 asteroid 2011 MD passed only 7,500 miles away with no ill effects.
Until a relatively large space rock is predicted to hit the Earth, we’ll be fine. Even if 2012 TC4 were to target the planet (and it’s not), it would break into pieces and likely drop meteorite fragments. That’s exactly what happened when 2008 TC3 (7-16 feet) struck Earth’s atmosphere on October 7, 2008 and rained 23 lbs. in 600 meteorites over the Nubian Desert in Sudan.