Earth almost had a devastating collision with an asteroid traveling at almost 15 miles a second today.
Asteroid 2019 OK, estimated to be between 187 feet and 427 feet in diameter, came within 43,500 miles of striking the Earth — nearer than the moon.
The asteroid was flying towards us from the direction of the sun, making it hard to spot. It was only first seen a couple of days ago and was only confirmed to be an asteroid in the past day.
“It is impressively close. We do not think it is quite sunk in yet. It is a pretty big deal,” Associate Professor Michael Brown of Monash University’s school of physics and astronomy informed the Sydney Morning Herald.
Had the asteroid hit, the impact would have been similar to the explosion of a nuclear weapon.
“It could have hit with over 30 times the energy of the atomic blast at Hiroshima,” Swinburne University astronomer Alan Duffy informed the paper, calling it a “city-killer asteroid.”
Brown mentioned that today’s incident was one of many closest known approaches to Earth by an asteroid. The asteroid was so close that if somebody have been looking at the right spot within the sky, they might be able to see it using only binoculars.
Although the asteroid might have been devastating if it hit the earth, it does not compare to the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs, which was almost 10 miles across. Earth itself is just over 7,900 miles in diameter.
In line with NASA, Asteroid 2019 OK has been close to Earth before, however never so close. Its last visit was February 1, 2017, although it was over 25 million miles away from the surface of Earth. It’s next anticipated to come within 46 million miles of Earth in 2024. For reference, the sun is about 93 million miles away from our planet.