An asteroid will graze Earth and will be visible to the naked eye

An asteroid will graze Earth and will be visible to the naked eye
An asteroid will graze Earth and will be visible to the naked eye

Lhe show promises to be memorable and, let’s say it straight away, safe. The asteroid Apophis, spotted on June 19, 2004, has long been considered the greatest threat to Earth. When it was discovered, NASA calculated that it had a 2.7% chance of hitting the planet. However, new calculations have completely ruled out this risk for the next 100 years. It will graze the Earth during the night of April 13 to 14, 2029.

On the anniversary of its discovery, the European Space Agency (ESA) wrote a long message about X to answer several questions surrounding this spacecraft. “Its flyby of Earth in April 2029 will be one of the rarest space events of our lifetimes,” says the agency. Apophis will be visible to around two billion observers in parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. In a clear and dark sky, the light will be bright enough to see with the naked eye for a few hours,” relays our colleagues from The voice of the North.

Much closer than the Moon

The asteroid will indeed pass extremely close to Earth. “On April 13, 2029 at 11:45 p.m. (Paris time), Apophis will reach its closest point to the Earth’s surface. Located just 31,600 km above the Atlantic Ocean, it will be closer to our planet than satellites in geostationary orbit,” observes the ESA. For comparison, the Moon is on average 384,400 km from Earth. The agency specifies in passing that there is also no risk of collision with our natural satellite.

Still according to the agency, Apophis has an average diameter of around 375 m, or three times the length of a football field. “That makes it larger than about 90% of near-Earth asteroids ever discovered, but it’s still small compared to the largest. » The asteroid responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago, measured approximately 16 kilometers.

The passage of Apophis will also give NASA the opportunity to send a spacecraft there to observe it very closely. The opportunity will not present itself again soon. He will return in 2044 but not that soon. The space agency finally reminds that there is no risk of meeting with Earth. “Astronomers have analyzed the orbits of more than a million other asteroids and found none that could collide with Apophis and put it on a collision course with Earth before 2029,” reassures the ESA .

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