Friday, January 25, 2008

Only 37,000 Years Will Tell

AP reported today that an asteroid, "2007 TU24" which is between 500 feet and 2,000 feet long, will pass by Earth at around 300,000 miles away. Though this sounds like a large distance to us puny humans, if you look at it on a galactic scale, that is a near miss—1.4 times the distance of the moon from the Earth. As a matter of fact, an asteroid of that size passes near Earth every 5 years, and strikes Earth once in about every 37,000 years. Luckily, no known asteroid of 2007 TU24's size or larger is expected to pass this close to Earth again until 2027.

Supposedly the asteroid will be viewable in dark and clear skies with amateur telescopes of 3 inch apertures or larger, so keep your eyes to the sky on January 29th at 08:33 UT.

For more information, read this Discovery News article.
See an interactive illustration.

Another asteroid is projected to pass Mercury the following (Earth) day. This one is to pass within 16,000 miles of the inner-most planet. Early models showed a 1 in 25 chance of Mercury being struck by the asteroid but now the odds are 1 in 10,000.

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