Asteroid 2019 OK narrowly avoided colliding with Earth as the asteroid’s flyby took the celestial body less than 100,000km away from the planet. A terrifying graphic released from ASAS-AN at the University of Ohio mapped the trajectory of the asteroid approaching Earth from a distance of just 45,360 miles (65,000km). Asteroid 2019 OK can be seen steadily approaching Earth’s orbit before nearly crashing into our planet on July 25.
Astronomers spotted OK 2019 a few days before its uncomfortably close encounter with Earth but no-one was seemingly aware of the asteroid’s route, and of the narrow margins involved, until shortly before the asteroid event occurred.
Had the asteroid hit Earth, the force of impact would have resealed “30 times the energy of the atomic blast at Hiroshima,” according to Swinburn University Associate Professor Alan Duffy.
Professor Duffy said: “It’s a city-killer asteroid. But because it’s so small, it’s incredibly hard to see until right at the last minute.
“It’s threading tightly between the lunar orbit. Definitely too close for comfort.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Professor Michael Brown of Monash University’s School of Physics and Astronomy said: “It was startling to have an asteroid this large pass so close with so little warning.
“That said, we are getting better at discovering these asteroids before they get uncomfortably close. 2019 OK was independently discovered by two different teams of astronomers and 2019 OK was in images taken some weeks before its close approach, but unfortunately wasn’t recognised.
“Our ability to find these asteroids will improve with new software, cameras and telescopes, including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.”
Prof Brown continued: “While it’s not good to have these asteroids sneak upon us, this has to be put context.
NASA is also believed to have already launched preparations for the arrival of asteroid 99942 Apophis – which has been dubbed the ‘God of Chaos’ asteroid – set to pass by the Earth in 2029.
The celestial body measures 340 metres and is estimated to pass only 19,000 miles away from the planet’s surface.
Apophis is one of the largest asteroids to pass so close to Earth’s surface and a crash could potentially have devastating effects on all life on the planet.
Apophis’ size and proximity to Earth have resulted in it being categorised as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) and NASA is keen to learn as much from the asteroid as possible to help prevent further asteroid issues in the future.