The last potential ‘End of the World’, on December 21, 2012, may have proven something of a non-event but doomsday fans are already looking forward to another. It comes in the shape of an asteroid named Apophis (after a demon from Egyptian mythology), a 270-metre wide rock that will come within a mere 14 million kilometres of our planet sometime on Thursday morning.
Those who wish to catch a glimpse of it can turn to the slooh website from 01:00 CET on Thursday, where footage of Apophis will be streamed in real time thanks to telescopes installed on the Canary Isles. Miss it and you will have to wait until 2029 to see Apophis again, although on that occasion it will come within just 30,000 kilometres of Earth (see the video below), around 13 times closer than the Moon.
Apophis, or 99942 Apophis to give it its full name, holds the record for being the most likely near-Earth object to actually hit Earth; it is the only asteroid to reach Level 4 on the 10-level Torino Scale that measures the likelihood of collisions.
NASA had previously estimated that there was a one in 45 chance that the asteroid would collide with Earth in 2029, although – thankfully – it has revised those odds and now predicts there is only a one in 250,000 chance of a catastrophic collision in 2036. For those of you curious to know what that might look like, take a look at this….