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Asteroids miss with astronomers

Close brushes actually fairly common

The only thing that was particularly unusual about two asteroids that zipped past Earth September 8, astronomers say, was that anybody noticed them.

Such close approaches — one of the asteroids passed within 79,000 kilometers of Earth — actually happen several times a week, according to scientists’ calculations. Yet some media outlets described the close encounter as if it were a brush with Armageddon.

“Quite frankly, I don’t know why they’re making such a fuss about it,” says astronomer Brian Marsden of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. “This is essentially nothing.”

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