“Beast” asteroid gives Earth a close shave

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

NASA asteroid
This diagram shows how near the asteroid (2014 HQ124) came. Well, gee, NASA, when you put it that way, suddenly 770,000 miles doesn’t seem far enough!

A football stadium-sized space rock nicknamed “the Beast” zipped by the Earth on Sunday! It was classified as a “potentially hazardous asteroid” because of how big it was (between 800 and 1,300 feet).

Just how close did it get? It came within 770,000 miles, which is over 3 times the distance between the Moon and Earth. Okay, that doesn’t sound so bad right? Well, in space terms, that’s just a few blocks away!

Fortunately, there was no chance of it hitting us, and asteroids this size pass near the Earth every few years according to NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The official name of the rock is “2014 HQ124”, and it was first discovered way back in April by NASA’s NEOWISE telescope, which hunts for comets and asteroids. In case you’re curious, a comet is a chunk of ice and rock originating beyond our Solar System, an asteroid is a rock in orbit between Mars and Jupiter, and a meteor is the streak of light when a space rock burns up after entering Earth’s atmosphere.

Images courtesy of NASA.