In news that will really have you feeling like you’re in a T-rex era, three big ol’ near-Earth asteroids have been spotted after they were hidden by the sun’s glare. Maybe it’s because Halloween just wrapped up, but this is feeling like some real Stephen King areas.
Basically, the asteroids went undetected because of that bright fucker the sun — but a team of international astronomers were able to observe them at twilight using a Dark Energy Camera at the Victor M. Blanco telescope in Chile. Dark energy camera is how I feel when I’m in a bad mood on a night out, I won’t lie.
But there’s one asteroid in particular that’s of note: according to astronomer Scott S. Sheppard it’s a “planet killer”. Cool name, love that. The asteroid is called 2022 AP7 and is 1.5 kilometres wide — stunning!
“Our twilight survey is scouring the area within the orbits of Earth and Venus for asteroids,” Sheppard said per CNN.
“So far we have found two large near-Earth asteroids that are about one kilometre across, a size that we call planet killers.”
An asteroid of that size would cause a “mass extinction event [which] hasn’t been seen on Earth in millions of years”, Sheppard explained.
The reason why this “planet killer” asteroid is of note is ‘cos its orbit crosses the Earth’s. As reported by The New York Times, the asteroid’s orbit comes almost 4.4 million miles close to us. This might sound very very far — and in Earth terms it is — but in space terms it’s pretty darn close.
Because of this factor, the wee (or rather, not wee) asteroid is “the largest potentially hazardous asteroid found in the last eight years or so” according to Sheppard.
However it won’t cause any potential problems for us for many, many, many, many, MANY moons. And let’s be honest, the world will be devastated by climate change by that point.
Clearly there’s something going on in the sky ‘cos another asteroid — 2044 RM4 — was set to pass by the Earth on Tuesday.
No danger, but newly-discovered asteroid 2022 RM4 will pass less than 6 lunar distances on November 1. Possibly as wide as 740 meters, it will brighten to mag 14.3, well within reach of backyard telescopes. @unistellar
This is very close for an asteroid this size. #2022RM4 pic.twitter.com/Z8khblg3Gq
— Tony Dunn (@tony873004) October 5, 2022
According to Yahoo!, it’s “potentially hazardous” ‘cos it flies fairly close to the earth, but there’s no need to be stressed. The asteroid has a diameter of around 750 metres and was set to was set to whizz by around 2.3 million kilometres from Earth.
Now I need to go lie on my bed and think about how I’m a tiny insignificant speck in the face of the immense majesty and might of space and all its unknown treasures, which apparently include asteroids hidden by the sun. It’s a great hobby, highly recommend.