Cosmologically speaking, 'near' does not mean what it means colloquially. After last week's "Cosmos" show, astronomers were chuckling at the representation that space was some sort of asteroid-laced minefield. In reality, you are less likely to get hit by an asteroid in space than you are on Earth - because space is that big.

So when astronomers stated scientifically that Asteroid 2003 QQ47 would pass 'near' us, they were speaking the language of science but the language of doomsday prognosticators is another thing entirely.

12 million miles is 'near' to astronomers but to you and me that is 50 times farther away than the Moon...and therefore nothing to fear. 

Science 2.0 fave Dr. Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, separates fact from hysteria, as always.