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If you’ve been thinking we’re in line for a big doomsday asteroid on Friday the 13th (aka today), then you’re going to leave a little disappointed. Asteroid 2012 TC4 already passed by the Earth on Thursday, October 12 and it didn’t pose much of a threat.
You can watch the asteroid’s flyby below:
You may have heard rumors about a Friday the 13th asteroid, but it actually passed by on the 12th. Called 2012 TC4, it was spotted for the first time just five years ago and it’s between 50 to 100 feet in diameter. It passed by the Earth at 6:42 am BST, within 27,000 miles of Antarctica. That’s just one eighth the distance between the Earth and the Moon, and just a little more than the distance from the Earth to our satellites. The asteroid might pose a threat of hitting Earth in 2079.
This is not the infamous Apothis asteroid (99942 Apothis.) You may have seen reference to that asteroid when searching for today’s “Friday the 13th asteroid,” but they’re two different objects. Neil deGrasse Tyson once said that the asteroid would fly very close to the Earth on Friday the 13th, April 2029. It’s the size of the Rose Bowl and might dip below the level of communication satellites. He wrote, “If the trajectory of Apophis at close approach passes within a narrow range of altitudes called the ‘keyhole,’ the precise influence of Earth’s gravity on its orbit will guarantee that seven years later in 2036, on its next time around, the asteroid will hit Earth directly.” That hit could be hugely destructive, he wrote in the book “Death By Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries.”
However, that “keyhole” concern for Apothis has since been lessened. In 2008, scientists determined the keyhole was less than 1 km wide. In 2009, the odds of a 2036 impact were reduced to 1 in 250,000. In 2013, the odds of a 2036 impact were reduced all the way to 7.07 in a billion — virtually not possible.