Three minute read. Written by Myra Aggarwal – a grade 9 student.
On April 29 an asteroid named asteroid 52768 (1998 0R2) will pass close to earth. Somehow through social media a rumour has spread that the asteroid will collide with earth. There are many versions of the viral message that also state that a huge section of humans will be wiped out from around the globe. Other ones say that the Earth will be partially hit and that will put everyone’s life in danger. People are sharing videos by saying that the world is going to end on April 29. Whats App forwards were also seen mentioning the same in different languages. Few online portals had misinterpreted the official NASA news which resulted a state of panic amongst people reading this message.
This is all a rumour. Don’t believe things blindly.
Let’s know about Asteroids.
What are asteroids?
Asteroids are rocky objects orbiting (going around) the sun. Our solar system has lots of asteroids, most of which are in, what’s called the main asteroid belt – that is the region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. They are of different sizes – some are hundreds of miles in diameter, but lots of them are as small as pebbles!
Mostly they are made of different kinds of rocks, but some have metals also – like nickel and iron.
Some interesting facts about asteroids
Nearly all asteroids are irregularly shaped and often pitted or cratered and they have dust covered surfaces. Some are a little spherical, like one called Ceres that is which is 940 kilometres across. Did you also know that about 150 asteroids have a small moon, with some having two moons.
So will an Asteroid hit the Earth?
Scientists with NASA’s Asteroid Watch Program said “On April 29, asteroid 1998 OR2 will safely pass by 3.9 million miles/6.2 million kilometres.” So it will not collide with us!
The asteroid is estimated to be between 1.1 miles and 2.5 miles (1.8 to 4.1 kilometres) wide by NASA. According to Asteroid Watch, 1998 OR2 will pass by earth at a safe distance as the distance is more than 16 times the distance between earth and the moon .
The distance between Earth and the asteroid is said to be about 4 million miles (6.4 million km). The reason why is has been termed “potentially hazardous” is because it according to NASA, if an asteroid orbit intersects Earth’s orbit at less than 7.5 million km, then it is considered to be dangerous. So we can definitely say that there is nothing to worry about.
What does Nasa have to say about the rumours?
It has been clarified by NASA that the asteroid is not headed towards Earth and neither it would collide with the planet. It would rather pass by Earth. This asteroid was discovered by NASA in 1998 and since then its movement has been under observation. On the website named Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) every data about the asteroid is openly available to all public. Neither is the asteroid 52768 (1998 OR2) found in NASA’s Sentry Impact Risk page which alerts us about the potential future events that could impact Earth.
EarthSky.org states that asteroid 1998 OR2 will reach a visual magnitude of 10 or 11 (magnitude is a measure of an object’s brightness). Therefore it will be visible in at least 6-inch or 8-inch telescopes, weather permitting. You can see asteroid 1998 OR2 in a live webcast from the Virtual Telescope Project if you by chance miss the flyby. The free livestream will feature telescope views of the asteroid on April 28, starting at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT)
Do not believe anything you see or hear through social media and don’t forget to watch the asteroid if you can !!
Here is a link to a video of how close it will actually come.
Written by Myra Aggarwal