Article written by: Prof. Jorick Vink, Armagh Observatory and Planetarium.
According to the European Space Agency (ESA) there is a 1-in-625 chance that Asteroid 2023DW, with the size of a Football pitch, can strike Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046.
Astronomers around the globe, including those at the Armagh Observatory and Planetarium, continuously monitor the skies in search of space rocks. Asteroids come in different shapes and sizes. The most famous one was miles across and killed off the Dinosaurs about 66 Million years ago, but impacts of this magnitude are fortunately rather rare.
Folks in Northern Ireland may be familiar with the Bovedy Meteor that flew across the Irish skies in 1969, managing to penetrate a roof in Sprucefield, causing damage.
Once these objects hit the ground, they are called meteorites and their chemical composition can be analysed to teach us tremendous amounts of information about the origin of the solar system 4.7 billion years ago.
If the new 2023DW asteroid will indeed be expected to hit the ground in 2046, this could cause more damage than the 3 times smaller Russian Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013, which was 30 times more powerful than the Nuclear Bomb on Hiroshima.
So, we better watch the skies!