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An asteroid about the size of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, 2,717 feet tall, whizzed by the earth at about 7:54 p.m ET on Saturday, September 14, 2019.[i]
Fortunately, the asteroid was actually quite far away at 3.3 million miles or about 9 times further away than the Moon. Its speed was about 14,300 miles per hour and indeed this asteroid would be a terrible event if it collided with the earth. But, in this case at 3 million miles from the earth, it is not dangerously close, nor is it predicted to ever be dangerously close. This asteroid is well known and is designated 2000 QW7.[ii]
However, the way a CNN article was written up, the writer then shifted in a heart beat without a transition header to document a tiny asteroid/meteor about 13 feet in diameter that had burned up in the earth’s atmosphere on June 22, 2019. Reading the article, it would be easy to confuse the two events.[iii]
Size/Risk/Closeness for Asteroids Passing Near the Earth
Instead of relying on popular articles competing for readers and often over-sensationalizing these kind of events, why don’t we look at and rely upon some of NASA’s information pages on the subject of “Asteroid Fast Facts?”
1) “About once a year, an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth’s atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface.
2)“Every 2,000 years or so, a meteoroid the size of a football field hits Earth and causes significant damage to the area.
3)“Only once every few million years, an object large enough to threaten Earth’s civilization comes along. Impact craters on Earth, the moon and other planetary bodies are evidence of these occurrences.”[iv]
The 13 foot long car-sized meteor 2019 MO fits in category one and a similar one comes along quite often.
The more than 2000 foot tall Burj Khalifa building-sized asteroid (2000 QW7) would be in category three. It could be devastating if it came very close and collided with the earth, but there is no evidence that it ever will endanger the earth.
One year, 2,000 years, a few million years: Let’s not be “Chicken
Littles” and let the one year events scare ourselves to death and believe that very
rare events are going to hit us today or tomorrow—probably not, 99.9999% not!
[i] “Tallest bilding in the world: Burj Khalifa in Dubai UAE,” manonthelam.com, retrieved 9/15/2019.
[ii] Ashley Strickland, “An asteroid larger than some of the world’s tallest buildings will zip by Earth Saturday,” Saturday, September 14, 2019.
Right after discussing the skyscrapersized asteroid, another asteroid is then discussed that is very different from the asteroid three million miles away from earth.
“Astronomers at the University of Hawaii used the ATLAS and Pan-STARRS survey telescopes to detect a small asteroid before it entered Earth’s atmosphere on the morning of June 22.2019.
The asteroid, named 2019 MO, was 13 feet in diameter and 310,685 miles from Earth. The ATLAS facility observed it four times over 30 minutes around midnight in Hawaii.”
Aristos Georgiou,“2006 QQ23: ENORMOUS ASTEROID LARGER THAN EMPIRE STATE BUILDING SET TO FLY PAST EARTH NEXT WEEK,” 7/31/2019.
A similar asteroid 4.6 million miles away from earth.
[iii] “2008 TC3,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 9/15/2019.
A similar event to the 13 foot asteroid in June 2019, is shown here with its path over Sudan in Africa.
“2008 TC3 (Catalina Sky Survey temporary designation 8TA9D69) was an 80-tonne (80-long-ton; 90-short-ton), 4.1-meter (13 ft) diameter asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere on October 7, 2008. It exploded at an estimated 37 kilometers (23 mi) above the Nubian Desert in Sudan.”
Laura Geggel, “Astronomers Spotted a Car-Size Asteroid just Hours before Impact,” July 27, 2019.
This is the 13 foot long small asteroid discovered just before impact.
“2019 MO,” Wikipedia.org, retrieved 9/15/2019.
Teo Blaskovic, “Asteroid 2019 MO detected 12 hours before exploding over the Caribbean Sea,” June 26, 2019.
Details on the June 22 13 foot long mini asteroid.
[iv] “Asteroid Fast Facts,” NASA mission pages, Mach 31, 2014.
“What Are The Differences Between An Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite?”