Neil deGrasse Tyson has weighed in on the asteroid set to pass by Earth around Election Day. Reports have spread since earlier in the summer on the six-foot asteroid that would cross our path on Nov. 2 and come within the safety net of the planet. Experts and scientists made it clear that the object is not a threat to Earth, but it hasn't stopped many from feeling 2020 is prepared to go out with a bang.
Tyson added to the expert opinion by sharing some information with his followers about Asteroid 2018VP1. His phrasing does play into the "doomsday" narrative slightly, but he makes the fate of the Earth quite clear by the end.
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"Asteroid 2018VP1, a refrigerator-sized space-rock, is hurtling towards us at more than 25,000 mi/hr. It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov. 2, the day before the Presidential Election," the scientist wrote on Instagram. "But it's not big enough to cause harm. So if the World ends in 2020, it won't be the fault of the Universe."
Sources vary on the actual distance the rock may pass by the Earth. According to WHIO, the asteroid could come as close as 4,700 miles and 260,000 miles. They also add it will likely burn up if it gets into the atmosphere. CBS News added that some sources claim that the asteroid could come within 300 miles of the planet. That estimate comes from a YouTube video citing the projection it will come "0.02 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon."
While there is no real chance to damage the planet, this will be a close pass. According to astronomer Mike Murray, the proximity isn't too much to worry about for Earthlings. The Jet Propulsion Lab labels NEOs from 0 to 9, with Asteroid 2018VP1 dropping in at a 7. According to CBS, if it does actually impact Earth, the rock won't damage anything and would need to be 20 times larger.
CBS references the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor that lit up parts of Russia as it exploded around 97,000 feet in the air. This was a 400-500 kiloton explosion, 26-33 times the Hiroshima atomic bomb dropped by the U.S. at the end of World War II. According to CBS, most of that explosion was absorbed by the atmosphere, and the damage ended up as a few injuries from broken windows. A similar event is believed to be behind the Tunguska Event in 1908 that flatted 770 square miles of forest in Siberia.
Some commenters chastised Tyson for keeping the truth until the end of the comment, but the song remains the same. This asteroid will pass by like so many before.