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Apophis - Killer Asteroid?
How old will you be on Friday 13, 2029? That is how old you will be when a large asteroid, called Apophis, comes very, very close to our planet. Asteroids are rocks that circle the sun in space and sometimes come close to Earth and even hit it. Most asteroids are very small and, if you are lucky, you can sometimes see them in the night sky as ‘falling stars’.
However, most scientists believe one large asteroid, about six to twelve kilometers across, hit the earth and killed all the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago. Apophis is also big. Scientists discovered it in 2004 and they say that it is about 300 meters across. That’s about the size of a large sports stadium. An asteroid this size, according to scientists, is not large enough to destroy our world, but it is large enough to destroy several cities. It will probably miss the earth, they say, but not by very much – it will miss us by about only 35,000 kilometers – that’s much closer than our moon which is about 240,000 kilometers away. Another way of thinking about it is that it will miss us by only a few minutes.
If you don’t find that scary, then consider this: the same asteroid will visit earth just a few years later, in 2036, again on Friday 13. Again, it will miss our planet, but again by only a very small distance ... probably. The only sure thing is that all the eyes and telescopes in every country in the world will be watching the skies on those two days.
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