In case you’ve received frightening email forwards about an asteroid impact on March 21st, or you’ve seen alarmist headlines like “Asteroid hurtles toward Earth,” you should know that there’s nothing to worry about (at least in this century). Dr. Phil Plait debunks the stories of asteroid 2003 QQ47. Sure, it will pass near us, but "near" in astronomical terms means some millions of miles. So despite what you've heard, it won't be impacting Earth.
Let me be very clear right away: Nope. It won’t. This story is totally wrong! Well, the asteroid does exist, but it won’t hit us next week, and in fact can’t hit the Earth for at least a century. The truth is the asteroid will safely pass us on Mar. 26 of this year, never getting closer than 19 million kilometers (nearly 12 million miles)—about 50 times farther away than the Moon!
He then goes on to explain how the alarming (but inaccurate and dated) story got started. But even though there’s nothing to worry about, asteroid QQ47 is an interesting celestial body, which you can read about at Bad Astronomy.
(Image credit: Jim Linwood)