The “asteroid of election day”, which Neil deGrasse Tyson said would “buzz off” the Earth on November 2, did not hit our planet. The asteroid – a refrigerator-sized space rock with the designation 2018 VP1 – flew safely past the Earth, as it was predicted to be at a distance of about 4,000 miles from our planet, which is astronomically an extremely short distance.
On October 18, deGrasse Tyson posted on Twitter, deGrasse Tyson said: “The 2018 VP1 asteroid, a refrigerator-sized space rock, is racing towards us at more than 40,000 km/h.
“It could shatter the Earth on November 2, the day before the presidential election. It is not big enough to cause damage. When the world ends in 2020, it will not be the fault of the universe.
NASA said there was a 0.41 percent probability that the asteroid would enter the Earth’s atmosphere, but even then it said it would not hit the planet’s surface. Instead, it said it could strike the outer edges of the atmosphere – a 6,200-mile thick layer known as the exosphere.
After the flyby, Michael Busch, an astronomer from the SETI Institute, reported on the current state of the asteroid, saying that nothing could be seen on the atmosphere monitors. “2018 VP1 flew past the Earth as expected,” he wrote on Twitter. “The optical recovery from the asteroid discoveries is still pending.”
Data from NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies show that two more asteroids will fly past Earth today, albeit at a much greater distance than 2018 VP1.
The first, 2020 UA3, is an asteroid with a width of up to 88 feet that will pass at a distance of about 1.3 million miles. This is about five times the distance between Earth and the Moon (238,900 miles).
The second was named HF4 in 2020 and has a diameter of up to 60 feet. This asteroid will have a close approach of more than 3.8 million miles.
Three more asteroids will pass the Earth on November 4 and 5, two on Wednesday and one on Thursday. The largest of them, which will pass on Wednesday at a distance of 3.3 million miles, is up to 150 feet wide.
The CNEOS data show that during the course of next year, an asteroid will pass Earth’s nearest neighbour: 2020 SO, which will pass Earth on December 1st at a distance of about 30,000 miles. The largest asteroid that will come within 4.6 million miles of Earth in the next 12 months is asteroid 231937 (2001 FO32). This space rock is estimated to be up to 5,500 feet wide and will pass safely past Earth on March 21 next year.