If you’ve been watching or reading the news lately, you may be wondering about that exact question. Yesterday a meteor streaked across the Russian sky and caused an explosion that injured many people.
And today there is an asteroid measuring roughly 120-feet across that will pass within 17,000-miles of Earth. You can get more information about this astronomical event, as well as how and when you might be able to view it, in this piece written by our own astronomer, Joe Rao, on Space.com.
So, you may be wondering if the sky is literally falling. While the timing may have many “Chicken Little” types rushing to think doomsday is close, sources affirm that the meteorite that fell in Russia had nothing to do with the close encounter of the asteroid later today. These space objects weren’t even in the same orbit.
Unlike large asteroids, meteors that survive and enter our Earth’s atmosphere are unpredictable.
So relax, the sky isn’t falling. It’s just very busy.
For more information about asteroids, including the difference between an asteroid and a meteorite, check out our previous story on them!
Here is a statement from Farmers’ Almanac astronomer Joe Rao about today’s asteroid near-miss.
The asteroid passing us today will not hit the Earth. Plain and simple. The closest it will come to us will be 17,200 miles at around 2:20 p.m. this afternoon. And this is not really such a rare event in that our Earth is literally in a “celestial shooting gallery” with large chunks of rock hurtling past us all the time. We get an asteroid passing to within the average distance of the Moon (238,857 miles) about once a month, while asteroids coming to within less than half distance whiz by about once every two months.
And every once in a while a large object will come crashing through our atmosphere and cause a huge fireball accompanied by an ear splitting sonic boom. Russia seems to be a favored target. Some massive object interacted with Earth in 1908 over Siberia; it blew trees down 40 miles away and knocked over cows 100 miles away. A smaller blast again occurred over Russia in 1947, and now this latest blast yesterday.
The late Dr. Isaac Asimov once wrote that within the next 100,000 years there will come an object from space that will flatten some large metropolis … it’s not so much a “what if?” as it is a “just when.”