Duck! Asteroid 2010 TD54 approaches

Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an asteroid!

A small asteroid is expected to fly extremely close to Earth early Tuesday morning — and miss the planet by just a few thousand miles. But don’t fire up your rescue rocket yet.

2010 TD54, as the asteroid is known, is forecast to approach our planet’s surface at an altitude of about 27,960 miles at about 6:50 a.m. — which is well within the Eart-moon system.

The asteroid is expected to fly over southeastern Asia near Singapore, NASA reports. However, the American space agency is quick to note that it has a zero probability of actually striking the planet.

ITWire reports that the car-sized asteroid is expected to fly through the constellations Aquarius and Pisces en route to skimming the third rock from the sun.

What might surprise many space novices is that the 16- to 33-foot wide rocky body was only discovered in the early hours of Oct. 9 by a NASA-sponsored telescope in Tucson, Arizona. If the asteroid did strike the Earth, it would likely burn up high in the atmosphere and would cause no damage to the planet’s surface.

And speaking of close pieces of space debris, mark your calendars as Oct. 20 will be a night space aficionados will not want to miss.

Green comet 103P/Hartley 2 will have a close encounter with earthlings on that day when it is only 11 million miles from our planet and should be dimly visible to the naked eye, NASA reports.

Folks with access to backyard telescopes should already have a great view.

For more information about asteroids, check out NASA’s asteroid watch Web page or Twitter account.

8:30 a.m. UPDATE: NASA seems to be correct. The world does not appear to have ended.

Jamie DeLoma