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Today is Near Miss Day

Staff Writer | March 23, 2018
March 23 is Near Miss Day, an annual reminder of the day in 1989 when an asteroid nearly collided with the Earth.
Near Miss Day
Earth   Reminder of the day in 1989 when an asteroid nearly collided with the Earth
The 300-meter wide asteroid called 4581 Asclepius flew past the Earth by a distance of about 450,000 miles (684,000 kms) and missed it by 6 hours. Experts estimate that if the asteroid had hit the Earth, the resulting collision would have released energy equal to about 1000 atom bombs!

It is a good thing then that the asteroid wasn't discovered until March 31, 9 days after it had flown by the Earth. Named after the Greek god of medicine, Asclepius, was discovered by American astronomers Henry E. Holt and Norman G. Thomas.

Since 1989, several meteoroids and asteroids have buzzed past the Earth from a safe distance. Scientists and astronomers measure the probability of a celestial object colliding with the Earth on two different scales - the Torino Scale and the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale.

According to NASA, there are very few near-Earth objects that have the capacity to hit the Earth and create havoc in the near future.