Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Asteroid Apophis, 9 January 2013
Asteroid (99942) Apophis is the original "killer asteroid". After some inital worry, it is now realised to be (mostly) harmless. Despite close approaches in 2029 and 2036, the probability that this rock will hit us is extremely remote (1 in 250,000 for the 2036 return, not at all for the 2029 approach).
The first very close approach of Apophis is in 2029 (when it will be visible to the unaided eye at around magnitude 3), however on January 9 at 14:09 UT when it is 0.0968 AU away it is visible in serious amateur scopes at magnitude 16.
Apophis will remain bright for the next few days, and is nice for it's iconic status, rather than any beautiful images we might take.