The asteroid was approximately 40 yards across, and it was only twice the distance from Earth than most of our geostationary communications satellites.
The asteroid wasn't even known of before last Friday, when Robert McNaught of the Australian National University spotted it. The asteroid came within 38,000 miles of Earth at 13:44 Universal Time on Monday. 38,000 miles may seem like a long distance, but in the vast expanse of space, that's a dang near miss.
Now, while movies make a big deal of asteroids hitting the earth, the odds are pretty small, and McNaught noted that if discovered early enough a disaster could be prevented.
McNaught told CNN:
"If discovered in advance and with enough lead time, there is the possibility of pushing it off course, if you have decades of advance warning. If you have only a few days, you can evacuate the area of impact, but there's not a great deal [else] you can do."Of course, there's always the chance of an asteroid that's large enough to produce an E.L.E., an extinction level event.
By the way, this isn't the closest "near-miss" asteroidal fragment on record. According to the MPC, tiny 2004 FU162 skirted just 4,000 miles from us on March 31, 2004.
This isn't the closest "near-miss" an asteroid has made, however. According to the MPC, 2004 FU162 passed by Earth just 4,000 miles from us on March 31, 2004. Of course, at 20 feet across, it probably would have burned up in the atmosphere.