Thursday, April 13, 2017

A month of near misses for Apophis Day 2017

Yesterday was Yuri's Night, the day I celebrate the promise of space on this blog.  Today is Apophis Day, when I contemplate the perils space poses to Earth, particularly in the form of large meteors and small asteroids that can collide with the planet.  It's this blog's equivalent to Asteroid Day, which got a later start but which has much better publicity.

With no further ado, I'm posting this year's version of the theme from last year's Impacts and near misses for Apophis Day 2016, featuring four near misses from the past month or so, beginning with Small Asteroid Flies Within 9000 Miles of Earth from

The 10-foot (3 meter) space rock came within the orbit of geosynchronous satellites when it flew by the Earth on March 2nd, 2017. The asteroid was designated 2017 EA and was discovered by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey 6 hours before its closest approach.
That was close!  Follow over the jump for two more near misses that happened during the past month plus a near miss that will occur in the very near future.

The next near miss was Bus-Sized Asteroid Buzzes Earth Closer Than Moon.  Like all the rest of these videos, it's from

A roughly 26-foot (~8 meter) asteroid named 2017 FJ101 came within 202,000 miles (~325,087 km) of Earth on Mar. 30, 2017. It was first observed on March 25, 2017.
The next week, reported Car-Sized Asteroid Buzzes Earth - About 10,100 Miles Away!

Asteroid 2017 GM was first observed by the Mount Lemmon Survey in Arizona on April 3, 2017. On April 4, it came within 10,100 miles from Earth. Gianluca Masi (Virtual Telescope Project) and Michael Schwartz (Tenagra Observatories. Ltd) captured an image of the space rock a few hours prior to closest approach.
The next one is yet to happen: Big Asteroid’s Closest Fly-By In At Least 400 Years - Orbit Animation.

A ~2000-foot (~650 m) asteroid named 2014 JO25 will fly by Earth on April 19, 2017. It will pass at a safe distance of ~1.1 million miles (1.8 million km). This will be the closest fly-by of an asteroid this size or bigger since asteroid Toutatis in 2004.
That's a lot of close calls!  May it remind my readers about the following.

Happy Apophis Day!


  1. Such risks are an important part of the reason for developing a space program, and one which the space agencies ought to publicize more. Even much bigger objects than these could be diverted from colliding with Earth, if the dangerous orbit were discovered far enough in advance, by sending a spacecraft to give them a bit of a nudge with a powerful explosive (nuclear if necessary). Even a slight change in path, far enough in advance, could cause the object to miss Earth by a wide margin.

    If the dinosaurs had had an advanced enough space program, they might still be here today.

    1. I absolutely agree with you about asteroids being an important reason to develop a space program and included it in last year's entry about the holiday.

      As for the dinosaurs still being around if they had a space program, they are. We just call them birds. Still, I know what you mean and am happy that they didn't, or else you and I wouldn't be here.