Ho-ho-holy crap, a massive asteroid is going to pass Earth on Christmas Eve
Every time an asteroid flies by the Earth and scares the crap out of people with the risk of an extinction level event, an angel gets its wings. Or something.
Astronomers this Christmas will receive a special present, in the form of the wackily named Asteroid 2003 SD220, also known by the sexy designation, Asteroid 163899. Mrowr.
The asteroid may be visible by the naked eye, but only in very favorable conditions. A standard telescope, however, should easily be able to pick out the rock as it passes by at a safe and secure distance of 6.7 million miles, or roughly 28 times the moon’s distance from the Earth.
In most ways, the asteroid is unremarkable, with two exceptions. The first is the date, of course. It’s not like the asteroid will blaze a fiery trail across the Heavens, making all the people of the world stop and gaze up, bringing us all together for one shining moment. Still, the asteroid will fly by on Christmas Eve, which is kind of cool, especially for astronomers, both amateur and professional.
The other significant thing about the rock is its size; it is around 1.25 miles in length. The asteroid is travelling at roughly 17.5 miles/second, rotating once a week. If it struck Earth, it could take out an entire continent, possibly wiping out all humanity.
Asteroid 2003 SD220’s orbit will bring it back by Earth again in 2019, but it isn’t expected to pose any threat for at least two centuries, if ever.
Oh, and as an added bonus, there are already people that are claiming that the rock is the harbinger of doom, because we allowed gay marriage and the use of the color orange, or whatever. Despite the calls from people that are literally awaiting God’s judgement, the rock will not cause earthquakes. Because science. And common sense.
But hey, Christmas is as good a time as any to freak out over stuff. If it makes you happy, have at it.
For everyone sane, there may be a cool site in the sky on Christmas Eve!