An asteroid swooped right between the Earth and the moon today

The newly discovered asteroid came within half the distance from the Earth to the Moon
By | Published: January 9, 2017 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
A diagram of the asteroid’s orbit

An asteroid came within half the distance from Earth to the Moon, flying through cis-lunar space this morning. Scientists at the Catalina Sky Survey discovered the asteroid, which is being called asteroid 2017 AG13, on Saturday.

The asteroid was between 50-111 feet across and was moving at about 10 miles (16 kilometers) per second, which was the same size as the asteroid that hit Russia in 2013. The size of the asteroid coupled with how fast it was moving and its low albedo (brightness) made it difficult to view through a telescope.

Asteroid 2017 AH13 is particularly interesting to astronomers because of its proximity to Earth in a group called the Aten Asteroids. Slooh Astronomer Eric Edelman said in a video that this asteroid is following an elliptical orbit versus the usual circular orbit, and crosses through the orbits of both Venus and Earth.