This year has thrown a lot of wild things at the people of Earth. Over the course of 2020 -- thus far, the year still has just over two months left -- we've been dealt a global pandemic with COVID-19, devastating wildfires, murder hornets, venomous puss caterpillars, and a contentious American presidential election cycle to just count a few things. It's a lot and now we can add one more thing to the ever-growing horror bingo card that is 2020: an asteroid hurtling towards Earth. That's right, according to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, there's an asteroid that could hit Earth on November 2nd -- the day before the election.
On Twitter, Tyson shared that the refrigerator-sized space rock designated Asteroid 2018VP1 is on course to "buzz-cut" Earth the day before the presidential election, but people shouldn't get too concerned. Despite it heading at us at more than 40,000 km per hour, the asteroid isn't large enough to cause harm. As Tyson puts it, "if the World ends in 2020, it won't be the fault of the Universe."
Asteroid 2018VP1, a refrigerator-sized space-rock, is hurtling towards us at more than 40,000 km/hr.
It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov 2, the day before the Presidential Election.
It’s not big enough to cause harm. So if the World ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the Universe. pic.twitter.com/eiy9G9w4Ez— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 18, 2020
Looks like we're stuck with COVID-19 and the murder hornets a bit longer then.
All end of the world jokes aside, it's not exactly uncommon for asteroids to pass by Earth. Earlier this year, another asteroid -- this one much larger, roughly the size of the Empire State Building -- was being monitored by NASA.
"Asteroid 2002 NN4 is estimated to be 250-570 meters (820-1,870 feet) in diameter, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). New York City's iconic Empire State Building is more than 1,400 feet tall at its tip," CBS News wrote. "The asteroid may seem daunting, but it will pass Earth at a safe distance, a representative for JPL told CBS News."
That was back in June so, given that you're reading this article it seems like things worked out okay. According to NASA's Center for Earth Object Studies, many objects pass by Earth on a regular basis, with close objects considered to be anything within 4.6 million miles of planet Earth.
But while this latest asteroid doesn't seem to be something that is going to cause any real harm, not all asteroids pass by harmlessly. An asteroid hit Russia in 2013, injuring 1,600 people so it's not impossible that the Universe has it out for us yet.
You can check out more about Asteroid 2018VP1 on via NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory site here.