Sky-watchers in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific islands welcomed a surprise guest Monday: an asteroid that passed just 41,010 miles (66,000 kilometers) above Earth.
Discovered only days ago, asteroid 2009 DD45 zipped between our planet and the moon at 13:44 universal time (8:44 a.m. ET). The asteroid was moving at about 12 miles (20 kilometers) a second when it was closest to Earth.
“We get objects passing fairly close, or closer than this, every few months,” Timothy Spahr, director of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center in Massachusetts, said in an email.
“Also, though, note these are only the ones that are discovered. Many more pass this close undetected”—as asteroid 2009 DD45 nearly did.