AN ASTEROID big enough to wipe out Queensland and most of New South Wales narrowly missed Earth yesterday.

Well, relatively speaking.

A distance of 350,000km might seem like a long way.

But the asteroid, named 2005 YU55, travelled between Earth and the moon, much to the relief of astronomers who have tracked the hurtling boulder for six years.

Sunshine Coast astronomer Owen Bennedick said the asteroid was 400m wide, "a fairly sizable object to say the least".

Mr Bennedick, of Wappa Falls Observatory, said the asteroid passed Earth and would not have been visible from Australia.

Astronomically speaking it was a major event, being one of the larger asteroids to come so close to the planet in some time.

Mr Bennedick said it was inevitable that a destructive asteroid would one day have us in its path.

"There's nothing that the individual can do," he said.

"If the governments of the world put some serious dollars towards tracking equipment to find all of the near asteroids then we'd have a few years' notice so we could prepare a mission to put a rocket on the side of it and push it away.

"You definitely wouldn't blow it up because you'd end up with hundreds of pieces hitting the earth instead of one."

A rocket on the side of an asteroid would be enough to "nudge" it off its path, Mr Bennedick said.

"The further away the better because all they have to do is give it a small nudge," he said.


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