As NASA prepares for the crash of a hypothetical asteroid, a real asteroid will be visible to the naked eye from Earth in 2029, and not just on any day... On a Friday the 13th!
During the Planetary Defence Conference this weekend, NASA revealed that it was preparing for a fictitious meteorite crash to imagine how scientists would work together to try to resolve the situation. But this time, it is indeed a real asteroid (but not one that will collide with us!) that will near our planet and that we will be able to see with our own eyes, on Friday 13th April 2029.
See you in 2029
Poetically named 99942 Apophis, this asteroid is massive, over 1000 feet wide, but it should not be a source of danger. When it was first discovered by scientists in 2004, they estimated the risk of it crashing into Earth at 1%. According to researchers, it should pass about 20,000 miles from Earth: ‘This is the distance of some of our satellites that are in orbit around the Earth,’ NASA explains in an article on its website.
An incredibly rare sight
It is rare for an asteroid of this size, one larger than Big Ben, to pass so close to Earth. Although scientists have already identified minor planets composed of rocks passing closeby before, they were generally only between 15 and 30 feet long.
The researchers estimated that an asteroid of Apophis’ size nears the Earth once every 80,000 years. ‘The fact that Aphosis is so close in 2029 is an incredible opportunity for science,’ said Marina Brozovi, a NASA radar scientist. ‘We're going to observe it with radio telescopes and optical telescopes. With radio telescopes, there is a chance that we can see extremely precise details of Apophis' surface.’
Visible from Earth
To get the best view of this asteroid on Friday 13th April 2029, you will have to look up to the sky a little before 5 p.m., explains NASA. It will then pass over the Atlantic Ocean and given the size of the beast, it will be visible without a telescope to a large part of the inhabitants of our blue planet, the space agency confirmed.