Asteroid to Hit Earth? Close but No Cigar

asteroid

Is it true that a 100-foot-wide asteroid will hit the Earth? Close but no cigar. The asteroid will zoom past the Earth on Wednesday evening and come within 218,000 miles of our planet, which is even closer than the moon.

The asteroid, known as 2014 DX110, will fly by at 33,000 miles per hour at approximately 5:07 p.m. EST tomorrow night. The DX110 was discovered on February 28th by the Pan-STARRS 1 survey as well as by England’s Great Shefford Observatory. People interested in viewing the spectacle can watch the asteroid on a live webcast of the celestial observatory website Slooh or VirtualTelescope.com. Experts said that the asteroid will stay a safe distance from Earth so there is no need for concern. Interestingly, NASA currently has the asteroid listed on its risk page for a 1 in 10,000,000 chance of impact with Earth on March 4th in the year 2046.

The DX110 will take its course briefly around the sun for 1,192 days and is considered an Apollo-class asteroid, a group of space rocks that cross the Earth’s orbit. The Apollo-class asteroids have more than 5,700 identified members. The famed celestial body has a tilt just above 5.7 degrees and will be approaching the Earth from the south and behind it in its course around the Sun. The asteroid will then cross inside the Earth’s orbit and north of the ecliptic plane. The DX110 object is not projected to brighten above +15th magnitude during its closest path near Earth Wednesday evening.

Paul Cox, Slooh’s technical and research director, said that the team often discovers potentially harmful asteroids a few days ahead of time before the extraterrestrial rocks pass close to Earth. He stated that the scientists need to locate the asteroids before they become a threat to mankind.

Slooh’s research campaign is currently using robotic telescopes to monitor the large abundance of potentially dangerous celestial bodies.  Although the DX110 asteroid will not hit Earth, it will definitely come close. Close but no cigar!

Several near-Earth asteroids (NEOs) have graced the Earth’s orbit recently, including the Amor asteroid 2014 DU110, which passed by Earth just earlier today. Scientists at the Virtual Telescope Project will be examining another close encounter beginning on March 9th at 6:00 p.m. EST.

Just over a year ago, scientists tracked two important NEOs on February 15, 2013. Researchers were monitoring the close pass of the 98-foot asteroid 2012 DA14 when another celestial body exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia. Unfortunately, the mysterious asteroid injured over 1,000 individuals due to falling glass from damaged buildings.

Slooh astronomer Bob Berman stated that unidentified asteroids strike our planet and cause damage or injury once a century as was observed on June 20 in 1908 and February 15, 2013.

Berman continued to say that discovering and tracking all NEOs and setting up emergency plans for deflecting them on short notice would be a wise move in order to protect the Earth from possible damage.

So grab a lawn chair, sit under the stars, and watch the glory of the 2014 DU110 zoom by at 5:07 EST. Will the asteroid hit Earth? Close but no cigar.

By Amy Nelson

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