2021 A to Z: Letter N
Near Miss Day (March 23)
The National Near Miss Day, March 23, is celebrated to remember the day when a massive asteroid named 4581 Asclepius nearly missed colliding with the Earth in the year 1989.
The asteroid passed by Earth on 22 March 1989 and was merely 500,000 miles away from the planet which was a very near miss indeed in the interstellar terms. 4581 Asclepius, provisional designation 1989 FC is a 300-meter wide asteroid that flew past the Earth by a distance of 450,000 miles which is 684,000 km. It was estimated that the asteroid had almost missed striking the Earth by just 6 hours.
Interestingly, after nine days, on March 31st, American astronomers named Henry Holt and Norman Thomas at Palomar Observatory discovered that the asteroid had flown by the Earth.
So…what’s the difference between Comets, Asteroids, Meteoroids, Meteors, and Meteorites?
For more science/ astronomy geekery, read more:
A History of Asteroid Collision Near Misses
Discovery Circumstances: Numbered Minor Planets (1)-(5000)
Explore Asteroids Up Close at NASA
Read about other near misses or not so near misses. Like the one known human to have been struck by a meteorite, Ann Hodges.
Featured image: “N is for Narwhal” from Digital Synopsis, created by UK based graphic designers Liam + Jord