430-Foot Asteroid Expected To Pass By Earth On Monday
According to NASA, a 430-foot asteroid dubbed 1994 WR12 is expected to smash through Earth's orbital path Monday.
On November 28, 1994, American astronomer Carolyn S. Shoemaker spotted the enormous space rock at the Palomar Observatory, which was slightly larger than an American football field.
The JPL Center for NEO Studies (CNEOS) classified it as an Earth Impact Risk until 2016 when it was removed from their Sentry List after several observations.
According to NASA astronomers, the impact of the 1994 WR12 on Earth would produce energy equivalent to 77 megatons of TNT, making it 112 times more powerful than the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated.
But don't worry, for the time being, we're safe. 1994 WR12 will pass Earth at a distance of 3.8 million miles on Monday.
However, a huge asteroid will collide with the Earth's atmosphere sooner or later. Professor Alan Duffy, head of the Space Technology and Industry Institute, has some sound advice for when this happens: "Don't look at it."
"I mean, it's going to be hard not to – the brightness of the glare from these objects burning up in the atmosphere," said the Professor. "That's actually what caused a lot of the injuries in Chelyabinsk (a meteor strike in Russia in 2013), people not unreasonably looked up at this enormous burning fireball in the sky, whose brightness was essentially that of the Sun by the time it finally erupted, that caused a lot of retina damage – so make sure you're not looking right at it."
[Editor's note: A previous version of this story reported that the asteroid could be viewable from California, however, the source of this information could not be adequately verified.]
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