In most circumstances, 432,000km is a long, long way. But not when that figure is the distance between a large mass of fast-moving rock and planet Earth. The number in question comes from a “near miss” that happened earlier this month, when the asteroid named XP14 passed us at 17km per second.

To put it another way, it came within 1.1 times the moon’s average distance from the Earth, close enough to be officially classified as a potentially hazardous Near Earth Object (NEO), along with some 782 known others. With an estimated diameter of up to 800 metres, had XP14 hit Earth it could have wiped out a small country.

This article in The Independent gives a good run-down of current thinking on asteroids, along with a timeline of several significant collision’s in Earth’s history.