A Coming Attraction

On 13 April, 2029, a dot of light will streak across the sky getting brighter and going faster. At one point, it will travel more than the width of the full Moon within a minute, and it will get as bright as the stars in the Little Dipper. But it won’t be a satellite or an airplane. It will be a 340-meter-wide near-Earth asteroid called 99942 Apophis. It will cruise past Earth roughly 31,000 km above the surface. That’s inside the orbits of geostationary satellites. This animation shows the distance between the Apophis asteroid and Earth at the time of the asteroid’s closest approach. The blue dots are man-made satellites in orbit our planet, and the pink dot moving diagonally near the Earth represents the International Space Station.

Animation Credits: Marina Brozović / JPL

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