[On Tuesday, February 5], lost within the orange glow of the setting sun, a newly discovered asteroid passed within 84,000 miles of our planet, just a third of the distance to the Moon, and barely anyone noticed. A sharp-eyed skywatcher with a good pair of binoculars might have seen the unfamiliar object gliding silently through Aquarius. But did they know what they were seeing was a very unexpected asteroid? Would they have understood just how close it really was?
Near-Earth Object, 2008 CT1, was discovered only two days before [the] close pass by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research project
, an MIT project funded by the USAF and NASA committed to discovering space rocks that orbit near Earth. Using robotic telescopes located at New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range, the project has contributed nearly 70% of world-wide Near-Earth Asteroid discoveries since beginning operations in 1998.