Published: Tuesday 15 June 1999

An automated telescope that traces asteroids has discovered a chunk of rock some 40 metres in diameter that is circling the Sun in an orbit close to the Earth's. The asteroid is believed to be a chip off the Moon. Gareth Williams of the Harvard Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, calculated that the object, discovered on February 10, circles the Sun every 1.09 years. The near-circular orbit is just nine million km farther from the Sun than the Earth's orbit ( New Scientist , Vol 161, No 2175).

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