Small Asteroid Just Buzzed Earth

Article written: 4 Feb , 2011
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

If you felt a sudden breeze at about 19:40 GMT (2:40 pm EST), it was probably from a small asteroid that came extremely close to the Earth today (Feb. 4, 2011). The object, officially designated 2011 CQ1, is fairly small — about 2-3 meters (6.5 -10 ft) wide — and at closest approach it came within 11,855 km (7,366 miles) or about 0.03 lunar distances (LD), or 0.00008 astronomical units (AU). Yep, that’s pretty close.

Richard Kowalski with the Catalina Sky Survey discovered this object early today. The image above is from Giovanni Sostero & Ernesto Guido who made remote follow-up observations to confirm with the Tzec Maun Observatory in New Mexico.

There was no chance this object was going to hit Earth, but it did come well within what is known as the Clarke Belt among geosynchronous satellites.

Find out more about the path this object is taking at Remanzacco Observatory in Italy.

Info on the Minor Planet Center website about 2011 CQ1.

Astronomer Bill Gray calculated a transit line plot showing the path over South America. You can see the charts here:

And if you are an astrophotographer, let us know if you capture any images of 2011 CQ1.

10 Responses

  1. hemo_jr says

    Isn’t that too small — by a factor of 10 to 15 — to be considered an asteroid?

  2. joed293 says

    I live in NW england, and our small plastic greenhouse blew over last night at exactly this time, it had been windy throughout the day but hadn’t blown over, is this connected?Would appreciate some info as to the places this affected.

  3. blairj says

    Glad I ducked! Just kidding, joed293. And so was the author of this article, regarding feeling a breeze. If an object like this stays out of the atmosphere it has no effect on the ground, and since it never got closer to earth than 7366 miles it was well above the atmosphere. According to it went over South America. If an object like this had entered the atmosphere at a shallow angle I suspect it would have appeared as a fireball in the sky to observers below, but had no effect on the ground. But my question is, if an object of this size and density had come down at a steep angle, would it have exploded in the atmosphere, or would it have reached ground? And if it reached the ground, what damage could it do?

  4. Emilio says

    According to calculation, it will not reach ground. It will burst into a cloud of fragments at 77000 feet. But large fragments can do damage. You don’t want to get hit by one.

  5. Member
    Aqua says

    I think its really cool that someone saw this object… HO! Cudo’s and cheers! Keep up the good work… please.

  6. Emmett says


    And asteroid blew your greenhouse over?
    You having a laugh mate?


  7. joed293 says

    the point was that a small greenhouse blew over on a very windy day, at roughly that time, Please die Emmett, i’d appreciate it. It was a question asking whether it did it, not a statement stating that it did! My, if my words are twisted once more today, i’m never going to live this down!

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