Large Asteroid Named Apophis Passed By Earth, Future Orbit Could Hit Earth

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Friday evening NASA watched as the asteroid Apophis passed by the earth on its regular orbit, it is approximately 1,120 feet wide and is comprised of rock, iron and nickel.  While it passed harmlessly by a little beyond the earth’s moon, its orbit will bring it back to earth in 2068, and astronomers say it will be so close they there is a chance it will impact earth.

During this passing, astronomers used the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to track the asteroid and gather more information about the object shaped roughly like a peanut according to NASA.  Officials conducted a planetary radar study as well to better understand its twisting motion as it orbits.  Its next close pass to earth will be in 2029 and will get within 19,000 miles and then again in 2036, each time it passes, it will be closer than the last one.  In 2068 is when officials think there is a chance it will impact earth.

An astroid the size of Apophis, if it hits earth, will easily take out a small town of 5,000 to 10,000.  Or it could take out several large blocks in a large city like New York or Chicago.  But according to Jean Schmidt of the European Space Agency, it is more more likely to make impact somewhere in the ocean as water covers the majority of earth’s surface.

a visual chart of Apophis asteroid path and possible impact with earth in 2068