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Asteroid to pass between Earth and the moon on Tuesday (but don't panic)

The orbit of the Earth (blue line) and its near-intersection with Asteroid 2010 WC9 (in white) is seen in this diagram by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Asteroid 2010 WC9 was lost, then it was found — and now the small space rock that is hundreds of feet wide is zooming toward Earth, making a close but safe pass on Tuesday that will see it fly roughly halfway between our planet and the moon.

Before we continue: There is no risk of even a partial collision, and the asteroid will stay tens of thousands of miles away from the outer limits of Earth's atmosphere. So there's no reason to take cover when the asteroid makes its closest approach at 6:05 p.m. ET Tuesday.

From the surface, the asteroid won't even be visible without the help of a telescope. And it won't be here for long: It is moving at more than 28,600 mph, according to the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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