Top NewsTwo killer asteroids are flying past Earth, and you can see one

Two killer asteroids are flying past Earth, and you can see one

This week, two asteroids — one big enough to destroy a city, the other big enough to end civilization — are set to fly close to our planet.

Don’t panic.

A for both Zero percent chance affect the earth. And, depending on where you are in the world, you might even be able to see one of them.

The larger of the pair, (415029) 2011 UL21, will pass 17 times farther than the Moon at 4:14 PM ET on Thursday. It’s 7,600 feet long, but it can’t be easily spotted without strong binoculars.

However, two days later, the tiny space rock named 2024 MK will come significantly closer to humanity. On Saturday, at 9:46 a.m. ET, it will zip by Earth at 75 percent of its distance to the moon. If you have one A decent backyard telescope Or maybe even Some good binocularsAnd if your sky is cloudless, you can see the rock zipping 400 to 850 feet across the starry sky before sunrise.

“The object moves fast, so you have to have some skills to find it,” he said Juan Luis CanoMember of the Planetary Protection Office at the European Space Agency.

Stargazers in the United States, especially those in the Southwest, may catch the asteroid passing by. Those atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano will be well positioned to see the asteroid zoom before sunrise. However, people in South America may have an easier viewing experience, he said Andrew Rivkinis a planetary astronomer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

See also  Protests in Stockholm, including Koran burning, draw condemnation from Turkey

Small asteroids and comet fragments occasionally pierce Earth’s atmosphere, creating a harmless light show. Many more rocks and ice miss the planet, and are often squeezed between the Earth and the Moon.

An asteroid of magnitude 2024 MK is rarely seen threading this celestial needle. “This is exceedingly rare but occurring on decadal scales – this is the third of this century (that we know of),” Dr. Rivkin said in an email.

Anyone who fails to find a 2024 MK shouldn’t feel left out. On April 13, 2029, ApophisThe 1,100-foot-long asteroid will fly less than 20,000 miles above Earth’s surface, closer than the orbits of geosynchronous satellites — meaning it’s visible to the naked eye.

Such intimate approaches are useful for planetary defense researchers. This week’s asteroids will be pinged by radar arrays on Earth so that their dimensions and onward journeys can be pinpointed.

“These measurements will significantly reduce the uncertainties in their motion and help us further calculate their trajectories in the future,” he said. Lance BennerPrincipal Investigator of the Asteroid Radar Research Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Double flying also serves as an incidental preview Asteroid day June 30 – An occasion recognized by the United Nations to raise awareness of asteroid impacts.

In 1908, a space rock about 160 feet long exploded above a remote part of Siberia, instantly leveling 800 square miles of forest—the size of the Washington DC metro area. It’s called the Tunguska phenomenon, a river flowing through the devastated area.

Although more are discovered every year, most near-Earth asteroids are capable of destroying a city Not found yet. Fortunately, much more can be seen with a pair of telescopes under construction – the multi-objective Vera C. in Chile. Rubin Lab and NASA Near-Earth Object Surveyor spacecraft.

See also  UFC 302: Makachev defeats Poirier by submission to retain lightweight title

2024 MK is twice the length of the asteroid Tunguska impact. The fact that the asteroid was discovered before it hit Earth and would miss us is certainly welcome. But astronomers discovered the space rock on June 16.

“The case of 2024 MK is another reminder of the fact that there are still many large objects to be discovered,” said Dr. Cano. Space agencies have plans and technology to protect the planet from killer meteors – if only we could find them before they find us.

Exclusive content

Latest article

More article