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At exactly 2:40 PM yesterday, Friday February 4th, an asteroid named 2011 CQ1, discovered earlier in the day, made its closest pass to the earth only 7,366 miles away. Astronomer Richard Kowalski at Mount Bigelow Observatory near Tuscon, Arizona alerted the astronomy community to the asteroid's close passage.
2011 CQ1 is rather small, only 6.5 to 10 feet across. Even with this size, a collision with earth would have been noticeable and/or damaging. What I find amazing is that with all the technology we have in this day and age it was still only discovered a matter of hours within its closest approach. I'm sure this has to do with how small this asteroid is but I think there could of been more warning than this.
This phenomenon just goes to show that there are still surprises in the astronomical field and that there are so many more things to learn. Richard Kowalski saw this asteroid with a normal telescope as part of the Catalina SkySurvey. This tells me that is both valuable and exciting to just go in your backyard and use your telescope and look up at the nighttime sky.
In comparison, the moon averages 240,000 miles away from the earth. You can clearly see how close 2011 CQ1 came to the earth. Spaceweather.com added that this asteroid would have been visible in some locations last evening. You can check with them and see if they have any photos of 2011 CQ1.
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The moon brightens in advance of next week's full moon. The Mars opposition happens on the same day as a lunar eclipse and the peak of a few different meteor showers!