The Christmas Eve Asteroid

What’s with all the asteroid flybys this year? First it was Spooky, the Halloween asteroid. Now, an asteroid will pass by just in time to bring us some Christmas cheer.

The large asteroid, about 0.5-1.5 miles wide, was discovered by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search program in 2003 and has been monitored since.

The idea of a big chunk of space rock hurtling at us is terrifying, but there is little to fear. The asteroid 163899, which is also known as 2003 SD220, will pass at as distance of 6.7 million miles (about 28 times the distance between us and the moon) from Earth.

A NASA report said the asteroid would come closer when it passes Earth for a second time in 2018. It will revisit us in 2021 as well. “The 2015 apparition is the first of five encounters by this object in the next 12 years when it will be close enough for radar detection,” NASA reported.


NASA map showing orbit of SD200 relative to Earth

NASA’s statements haven’t stopped conspiracy theorists from making dire predictions though. Some say 2003 SD220 could have enough gravitational pull on Earth to trigger earthquakes or volcanoes. Others are saying that the reason these asteroids are flying by so frequently is because something is pushing them toward Earth.

However, there’s no scientific support for either of these theories.

Do you have a telescope handy? Now is the time to prepare for a viewing of SD220 when it shares our Dec 24 skies with dear old Santa Claus.

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in interesting stuffs, science news

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