Thursday, 14 February 2013
‘Near miss’ asteroid – how long until one hits?
Weighing 130,000 tonnes and travelling at over 28,000 miles per hour – if this one was to hit Earth, it would likely take out an area the size of London. At Bayfordbury Observatory, astronomers Dr Mark Gallaway and David Campbell lead on a programme to monitor these ‘near earth objects’ (NEO), months, sometimes years in advance in order to understand their obit, what they are made of, and effective ways to change their path – should they be on a collision course to Earth.
Mark said: “Although there is absolutely no chance of this particular asteroid hitting Earth, it does highlight the dangers of so called ‘Near Earth Objects’ of which about ten thousand of the expected one million have been identified.
“By monitoring its movements we will be able to improve our understanding of these potentially hazardous objects.”
Too faint to see with the naked eye, the asteroid, which will pass closest to Australia on Friday night, will be visible through binoculars in the direction of the ‘plough’ constellation at approximately 9pm.
For more information on the research undertaken by Bayfordbury Observatory, visit http://www.herts.ac.uk/bayfordbury/research-at-bayfordbury-observatory