(Very) Close Encounter

A near miss by an Earth-buzzing rock reminds us of a danger we can't ignore

Photo-illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME; Asteroid: Stocktrek/Getty Images; Earth: World Perspectives/Getty Images

It's been a bad few weeks for folks inclined to worry. There was the North Korean nuclear test and the return of extreme weather to the Northeastern U.S., and then there was the matter of the possible end of Earth in the middle of February. As it turned out, we're still here--but we did get something of a wake-up call.

As NASA had been warning for a year, a 150-ft. asteroid ("the size of a small office building," as the space agency discomfitingly described it) was on track to buzz the planet at exactly 2:24 p.m. E.T. on Feb. 15, coming...

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