The latest space rock to pass by, known as Asteroid 2018 DU, is the 17th known asteroid to have come within one Lunar distance (e.g., closer to us than the moon) this year. It was spotted just this past Friday by a telescope in Arizona operated as part of the Virtual Telescope Project, which detected it to be over 30 feet wide and moving at a speed of 2.8 miles per second. It missed Earth by a little less than 175,000 miles. Asteroid 2018 DQ, which passed by on February 21, missed Earth by just 60,000 miles. On February 9, another one dubbed Asteroid 2018 CC -- roughly 120 feet wide -- passed by at just 39,000 miles overhead.
So what's going on? Should we be worried?
The simple answer is: probably not. Millions of asteroids orbit the sun between Mars and Jupiter, and Earth experiences quite a few close encounters throughout the year. However, another explanation for the seemingly high frequency in the past two months may be technological advancements that allow astronomers to catch wind of smaller asteroids better than ever before. Astronomer Gianluca Masi recently explained as much to Newsweek: “Over the years, we have improved our capabilities to find these smaller asteroids. This is why we apparently have such a higher frequency of close encounters."