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Asteroid that may hit Earth day before US election is ‘not big enough to cause harm,’ Neil deGrasse Tyson reassures earthlings

With an estimated diameter of 2 meters (6.5 feet, or roughly one ‘refrigerator’), the asteroid known as 2018VP1 is just “not big enough to cause harm” when it buzz-cuts within 5,000 kilometres of Earth on November 2, celebrity scientist deGrasse Tyson wrote on Twitter and Instagram. 

So if the World ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the Universe.

View this post on Instagram

Asteroid 2018VP1, a refrigerator-sized space-rock, is hurtling towards us at more than 25,000 mi/hr. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov. 2, the day before the Presidential Election. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But it’s not big enough to cause harm. So if the World ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the Universe.

A post shared by Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neildegrassetyson) on Oct 17, 2020 at 6:40pm PDT

The asteroid has actually been on the radar for nearly two years, since 2018VP1 was first detected by the Palomar Observatory in California in November 2018. The rock orbits the sun every 2 years and its next closest approach to Earth will be on November 2 at roughly 4,994 kilometers, which is pretty close in space terms.

However, astronomers at NASA and elsewhere estimated it as posing little threat whatsoever, with only 0.41% chance of entering Earth’s atmosphere this year, only to disintegrate due to its small size.

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