This month, the large Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico was damaged when its parabolic disk was shredded. Allegedly, a cable weighing several tons broke loose from a support tower and crashed down on the telescope’s reflector dish, creating a 100-foot swath of damage to panels in its receiver and to an area used by the staff as access. It is expected to be out of service for at least 5 months. Some however are speculating that it was something from space that did the damage, but as of right now there is no proof of that. The mainstream story is as follows:
August 19th, a previously-discovered asteroid identified as ZTF0DxQ passed our planet at a distance of a quarter of Earth’s diameter. That gives it the distinction of being the closest-known flyby that didn’t actually hit the planet. The following is a graphic from the Earthsky.org website.
Newly discovered asteroid ZTF0DxQ – now officially labeled 2020 QG – swept about 1,830 miles (2,900 km) from Earth’s surface on Sunday, August 16, 2020, then zoomed on. It was moving at a speed of about 7.7 miles per second (12.4 km per second) or about 27,600 mph. Because it approached Earth from a sun-ward direction, it flew past us unseen at 04:08 UTC. Astronomers didn’t detect it until six hours later. This object now holds the record among known asteroids for having swept closest to us without striking us.
The website asks: “Should we be glad it didn’t hit us, or mad that it wasn’t detected earlier? Neither one. And here’s why: relatively speaking, this object is very, very small.”
Earthsky.org is a first class website that reports on all things space. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in knowing what is going on OUT THERE. However, in this case I take issue with their conclusions about our asteroid “hunters” missing one.
Astronomers are clearly aware that many dangerous asteroids are roaming around in our solar system, and that the odds are that one day there will AGAIN be a life altering collision with our planet. That day could be hundreds, or even thousands of years from now, or maybe much much sooner. With that in mind we must always be vigilant for the possibility that something is inbound. Speaking of which, yet another asteroid, 2018VP1, is predicted to pass near Earth the day before the US presidential election on November 2nd. and you thought we already had enough excitement with the election. Asteroid 2018VP1 has a projected 0.41% chance of hitting the planet, according to NASA. The following is a story by Jacinta Bowler on the website https://www.sciencealert.com.
If you’ve looked at the news today, you’d be forgiven for thinking a huge asteroid is on track to collide with Earth the day before the 2020 US Presidential election.
At least that’s the takeaway from quite a few news outlets. And, understandably, some people are freaking out. In a year with a literal pandemic, an asteroid collision really just puts a cherry on the top of a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad cake.
But we have good news for you! Despite the headlines, there’s no need to worry about this particular asteroid – known as 2018VP1.
2018VP1 is not a surprise to scientists. As its name suggests, it was discovered back in 2018 while it was around 450,000 kilometers (280,000 miles) away from Earth. It’s got a two-year orbital period, and it’s currently on its way back around again towards us.
Fortunately, this is not one of the many asteroids that we don’t know about until they’ve already exploded, or flown by.
This time though, the Apollo-class asteroid is estimated to come within 4,994.76 kilometers of Earth. That’s really close in space terms. And because it’s so close, there’s a slight chance (1 in 240 or 0.41 percent) that it’ll hit Earth on 2 November 2020 – the day before the US Presidential election.
It is safe to say that we have dodged a bullet, and will likely keep doing so for the near term. However, there are two things to keep in mind.
Number 1 is that some day the really big one will likely impact with the planet. We are constantly being told that will be in the far future, so no need to worry. Okay thanks.
Number 2 is that the men and women who scan the skies for a living already know the ugly truth about our future. What if they knew something, but were not permitted to speak about it? Of course they have families, and close friends, so the likelihood of the deep dark secret being kept from us is very slim. Nevertheless, it is possible that for the near term the secret will remain intact. What is evident is that the government and our military seem to know something that they are not sharing with us. I will address that issue in a future post, but for now we can stay safely locked away in our houses and apartments, hiding from the “killer virus”—or not.
Subscribe to my website to keep up with the unfolding asteroid situation. I have an eye to the sky.