TJC professor discusses Eiffel Tower-sized asteroid headed close to Earth

Apophis Near Earth Asteroid

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - After 2012 passed without the world ending, many of us haven’t given much thought to an asteroid smashing into the Earth, but there is one out there that’s going to get close. Well, relatively speaking. And it’s about the size of the Eiffel tower.

If you want to get a look at an asteroid, the TJC Earth and Space Science Center seems like a logical place to do it.

Dr. Beau Hartweg runs the place and can show us something similar to Apophis, the near Earth asteroid that will zip by March 5 and 6.

“Are we all going to die?” I asked Hartweg.

“Certainly not by a nearby asteroid pass any time soon. At least we don’t think so,” Hartweg said.

Well, had to get the tough question out of the way, right?

“Apophis is an asteroid and it orbits the sun. And its orbital path sometimes crosses Earth’s orbital path as well,” Hartweg said.

Well that’s why I asked. So, how close?

“It’s going to be about ten million miles away from Earth,” Hartweg said.

In astronomical terms, that’s close, but not so much for earthlings. Really, it’s about:

“Forty times further away from Earth than the Moon is,” Hartweg said.

Dr. Hartweg says you may not be able to see it.

“It’s probably going to be a little too dark. But I’m sure there’s going to be lots of photos from astronomers that are going to be taking pictures and studying it and getting a really good close look,” Hartweg said.

By the way the big rock flying around your screen is:

“One of the moons of Mars its name is Deimos,” Hartweg said.

He says some think it’s a captured asteroid, and says Apophis won’t become our second moon, but it will be back this way in about eight years.

“It will come within twenty thousand miles of Earth,” Hartweg said.

Hartweg says that’s actually closer than some satellites, but it is not predicted to strike the Earth then either.

Ironically the planetarium at TJC has a new film they’re showing called Asteroid Mission Extreme that will be showing every day next week at 1:30pm. It’s only 3 bucks for a seat and masks are required.

WEBXTRA: Asteroid flyby

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