Arizona sky watcher spots asteroid on direct path toward Earth

An astroid in the sky over Botswana

2018 LA was first detected by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., which is funded by NASA and is operated by the University of Arizona.

NASA had only discovered the asteroid on Saturday and determined it was on a collision course for the planet, charted for entry in a vast expanse from Southern Africa and across the Indian Ocean to New Guinea and given the name 2018 LA.

However, at just 6-feet across, it was deemed too small to pose any danger.

Planetary Defence Officer at Nasa HQ Lindley Johnson said: "This was a much smaller object than those we are tasked to detect and warn about but it was a good exercise".

YouTubeNasa's Near Earth Object Centre said that Asteroid 2018 LA was travelling at 27, 738 miles per hour.

Fortunately, NASA didn't have to rely on Bruce Willis or Ben Affleck to blow up this asteroid before it entered the earth's atmosphere, but it still looked arguably more unsafe than Dottie, the Texas-sized asteroid in Armageddon.

It was first spotted when it was about the same distance away from Earth as the Moon is, and scientists jumped into action to attempt to predict where it might impact.

A boulder-size asteroid disintegrated harmlessly over Africa, just hours after its weekend discovery.

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Designated 2018 LA, the asteroid was small enough that it was expected to safely disintegrate in Earth's atmosphere.

Objects this small "are quite faint and hard to detect until they are very close, which is why we did not see it sooner", he said.

One such larger object was the asteroid that went completely undetected until it collided with the atmosphere over Russian Federation in 2013, creating a shock wave that blew out thousands of windows in the town of Chelyabinsk ans caused a number of injuries.

A small chunk of an asteroid or comet is also known as a meteoroid.

While there is a good chance of finding meteorites on the ground from the impact of 2018 LA, any fragments of the asteroid that made it to the surface would have been slowed considerably by their interaction with the atmosphere.

The manager of the NEOC Paul Chodas said: "The discovery of Asteroid 2018 LA is on the the third time that an asteroid has been discovered to be on an impact trajectory with the Earth".

This is the incredible moment a high-speed asteroid the size of a auto explodes over the South African wilderness just seconds before impact. All three of those events were discovered on the watch of astronomer Richard Kowalski at the Catalina Sky Survey.

The 2008 asteroid was spotted 19 hours in advance and measured 13 feet, or 4 meters. The second predicted impact event was for asteroid 2014 AA, which was discovered only a few hours before impact on January 1, 2014, in the Atlantic Ocean, leaving too little time for follow-up observations.

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