For those anxiously awaiting December 21, 2012, here’s a little thriller for you. In a few hours, an asteroid (named 2012 QG42) the size of three football fields will be making a close pass by Earth. We would have warned you earlier but, eh, the astronomy geeks just spotted it a few weeks ago (that should make you doomsdayers feel a bit better). Right now it has no chance of hitting the Earth but it has been classified as a “potentially hazardous asteroid”, meaning it may pose a threat in the future.
There will be at least two online observatories broadcasting the flyby. The Virtual Telescope project in Italy will provide a live stream at 6:00 PM EDT and the Slooh Space Camera will provide a live view of the 2012 QG42’s approach in a webcast beginning at 7:00 PM EDT.
Slooh editor Bob Berman told Discovery magazine:
Near Earth Objects (NEO’s) have been whizzing past us lately, undetected until they have been practically on top of us. This illustrates the need for continued and improved monitoring for our own future safety. It is not a question of if, but when such an object will hit us, and how large and fast it may be going. Near-Earth asteroids like the one passing by on Thursday provides instruction and perhaps motivation to keep up our guard, as well as a sense of relief as it speeds safely past at a mere one fifteenth the distance to the nearest planets.
Doomsdayers – breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.