2004 MN4...again

If you remember back to the very start of the year you may remember mention of an asteroid that was going to hit the Earth in 2029. The asteroid had the name 2004 MN4 (having been discovered near the end of 2004) and measurements of the position of the asteroid had given it a rating of 4 on the Torino scale - the asteroid equivalent of the Richter scale - making it the highest rating ever. Even so, a rating of 4 just "merits attention by astronomers" (previously "meriting concern") although it helped fill up the pages of the major newspapers with graphics of asteroids hitting the Earth and size comparisons in units of Nelson's columns (or area the size of Wales). As more observations came in, the path of the orbit was refined, showing that it wouldn't hit the Earth, so the rating was revised downwards (as usually happens).

2004 MN4 - now named Apophis after an ancient Egyptian spirit of destruction - has made the news again (spotted courtesy of Davep). This is not because of any significant increase of danger but because it got mentioned at a recent meeting in London. Back in February the probability of impact with the Earth was put at 0.016% but has now slightly increased to 0.018% for an impact seven years later in 2036. It currently rates 1 on the Torino scale, so the "chance of collision is extremely unlikely with no cause for public attention or

public concern".

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Wednesday 07th Dec 2005 (10:07 UTC) | Permalink
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