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1,100-foot asteroid named after God of death to skim Earth in 2029
the event will be visible to the naked eye.
NASA has confirmed that a massive space rock hurtling towards the Earth at high speed will be visible to the naked eye. The asteroid will skim our planet within the same distance as spacecraft that orbit the Earth.
Dubbed 99942 Apophis is around 1,100-foot-wide and will shoot sky like a "moving star-like point of light," getting faster and brighter on Friday, April 13, 2029. At 19,000 miles above the earth's surface, it will be visible from the east coast to the west coast of Australia. It will then pass the Indian ocean and cross the Atlantic ocean in just an hour, reaching the US in the evening.
Smaller asteroids from 10-20 meters have been spotted skimming Earth at similar distances, however, a space rock as big as Apophis is a rare occurrence. NASA scientists also discussed the observation and science opportunities this event would give them.
"The Apophis close approach in 2029 will be an incredible opportunity for science," said Marina Brozović, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"We'll observe the asteroid with both optical and radar telescopes. With radar observations, we might be able to see surface details that are only a few meters in size," he added.
When the Apophis was discovered back in 2004, the Kitt Peak National Observatory calculated that there's a 2.7% chance of impacting Earth in 2029. However, later observations completely ruled out the possibility.
"Apophis is a representative of about 2,000 currently known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids," said Paul Chodas, director of CNEOS. "By observing Apophis during its 2029 flyby, we will gain important scientific knowledge that could one day be used for planetary defense."