Science: Runaway Planet

Most of the 1,600-odd known asteroids (small-fry planets) revolve in orderly orbits between the paths of Mars and Jupiter. But last week an asteroid was off its reservation and rapidly approaching the orbit of the earth. Astronomer C.A. Wirtanen of Lick Observatory, Calif., who spotted it, figured that it was some two miles in diameter (about the size of the Matterhorn broken off at its base) and big enough to give the earth a sizable jolt.

But there was no danger that it would hit the earth—on this trip, anyway. Hasty calculations indicated that it would not come closer than 15 million...

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