It has been badly spoken for more than a decade due to the (very remote) possibility that it will hit Earth in 2029, or even the next passage in 2036. But Apófis will make this weekend a safe and humble approach to Earth. it should not worry anyone except astronomers who want to observe the phenomenon.
On March 5, 2021, the “passage” covers a minimum distance of almost 17 million km. How much does that cost spatially? Forty-four times the earth-moon distance (approx. 384,000 km), also known as “far for donkeys”.
All of the tension has to do with a future passage. In 2029, it is projected to be only 31,000 km from the planet – closer than the telecommunications satellites that are in geostationary orbit (36,000 km). But the probability of a collision, whether in 2029 or in the next “pasture passages”, is ridiculously low. It is what we would call “impossible” in Botecos (if we could be in them).
By saying yes, by saying no, this 2021 opportunity is the last astronomers have to heed the proverb and refine its trajectory for the next few passages. There is a great deal of uncertainty, not only because of the effects of gravity, but also because of other smaller forces such as the Yarkovsky effect, where sunlight gently changes the course of asteroids. Despite all of this, the likelihood of any future impact is slim. Apófis is 370 meters in diameter and falls into the category of asteroids with the potential for continental destruction, but not for global mass extinction (which is reserved for asteroids 1 km or more). The bolide that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was more than 10 km long.
For a full lesson on Apophis, see this video by astronomer Cristóvão Jacques of the Sonear Observatory, the greatest asteroid discoverer in Brazil.
If you’d like to see live images of the asteroid’s passage, follow the Astro NEOS channel by clicking here.
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