That was close!
An asteroid the size of a football field buzzed the Earth on Sunday, April 15, and astronomers detected it only a few hours before it flew by. The asteroid — now called 2018 GE3 — came within 119,500 miles of Earth according to NASA's Catalina Sky Survey, a collection of telescopes scanning the sky for problematic projectiles coming our way.
While 2018 GE3 sounds big and could have caused major damage here on Earth, it is actually rather small compared to the normal asteroids that swirl around in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Its size is one of the reasons it went unnoticed until it was pretty close. According to the self-proclaimed geeks at LiveScience:
"The most common kind of asteroid, called a carbonaceous type, is very dark. This kind of space rock may not reflect enough light for an optical telescope to spot it. A near-Earth asteroid also moves quickly in the sky compared with a planet, because the rock is much closer to us. So, a telescope needs to be looking in just the right area, at the right time, to catch it."
You would not need a telescope to notice the change in equity market volatility that has buzzed investors so far in 2018:
The chart above shows the weekly percent change for the S&P 500 Index for 2017 (left of the blue vertical line) and for 2018 through April 13 (to the right of the blue line). Amazingly, the moves we have seen almost weekly so far throughout 2018 — whether resulting in an “up” week or “down” week — have been larger than the biggest up and down move in 2017.
We would assume more asteroids will be heading our way as time goes on, just like we are assuming volatility will remain elevated in the weeks and months ahead as we move closer to the end of this amazing bull market and business cycle expansion.