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Closest asteroid in years zooms past earth

Talk about a close approach!

CLEVELAND — You may have heard earlier this week, an asteroid 2019 OK, was the closest asteroid to fly by the Earth in a number of years. It is estimated that the rock was approximately 180 to 400 ft across! This was a city killer, but nothing like the dinosaur killer.

These are difficult to detect because of their very elliptical orbit, which can extend easily between Mars and Venus. We generally will have as little as a one-week notice, for cases like this. Had it struck the Earth, it would have been the equivalent of perhaps a 10 Megaton nuclear device.

Credit: NASA
Orbital path of asteroid 2019 OK

This is nothing compared to the 2013 explosion over Siberia Russia! As you may recall, it did considerable damage and 1200 people were injured. The damage and injuries were caused by the meteor exploding over the town.

Last week's asteroid, was more like a rare meteor which exploded over Siberia Russia, nearly 100 years ago. This is often referred to as the "Tunguska Event"! Although no one was killed it did flatten almost 800 square miles of Siberian Forest.

Over the last several days we have had BRIGHT, large meteors, flare across the sky in Hawaii and in Canada. The one in Canada is thought to have crashed and spread iron fragments of itself all over the area.

On a happier note, we are now smack in the middle of meteor season, which runs from mid-July to Mid-August. Within these 40 days, Earth passes through a number of clouds of meteoric dust, in our solar system. Therefore, we have periodic meteor showers. One of those showers will Earth will pass through this weekend.

Meteor season will conclude with the Perseids Meteor Shower, the evening of August 12th into the morning of the 13th.

Unfortunately, we will have a nearly full moon up, blanking out, all but the brightest of the meteors. Still worthwhile going out and having a look!


Jay Reynolds is a Research Astronomer for Cleveland State University and co-host of "In the Sky" on wkyc.com