Nugget of Knowledge: Election asteroid

Daybreak

There are two asteroids heading our way but will they actually hit?

(WYTV) – From astronomer Phil Plait, two asteroids are coming our way.

The first, 2018 VP1, will come very close to our planet November 2. It could even hit us, though the odds are roughly 1 in 240. To put it this way, there’s a 99% chance it’ll miss.

2018 VP1 is about six feet long so it would probably just burn up in the atmosphere.

It was discovered in 2018 and tracked for only 13 days. That’s not very long, which means it’s difficult to get a good orbital calculation for it.

Here’s an analogy — you’re an outfielder in a baseball game and as soon as the batter hits the ball, you close your eyes. Now predict where the ball will be when it lands.

The longer you can watch the trajectory, the better you can track its future orbit.

The other asteroid, 2011 ES4, is quite a bit larger — 66 feet by 130 feet. It will likely come close to Earth on September 1.

An asteroid that large burning in the atmosphere could create enough force to produce a shock wave and damage property.

It’s as big as the Chelyabinsk asteroid, which blew up high over Russia in 2013, detonating with the force of half-a-million tons of TNT. It blew out windows, damaged buildings and hurt more than a thousand people, mostly from flying glass.

The only time we’ve seen 2011 ES4 was in 2011 and that was only for four days.

All predictions have it missing Earth. But a close pass is a good thing because we can watch it longer, nail down the orbit and figure out just how big of a threat it really is — the next time.

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