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.
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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.