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Glowing Green Asteroid Seen Shooting Across Australian Night Sky

by : Lucy Connolly on : 15 Jun 2020 10:43
Glowing Green Asteroid Seen Shooting Across Australian Night SkyMason Vearing/Lachlan Wynn/9News

Sky-watchers in Australia were treated to a show yesterday, June 14, when they spotted a mysterious green glow shoot across the evening sky.

Video footage taken by residents in Port Hedland, in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, showed the sky lighting up green as what appeared to be an asteroid streaked across it.

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The glow was so bright, in fact, that it could not only be seen by Port Hedland locals but by those residing in parts of Victoria and South Australia.

You can check it out below:

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Amazed residents couldn’t believe their luck, with one person exclaiming, as per Daily Mail Australia: ‘That’s a f*cking asteroid!’ And that it was, with astronomers believing it to be Asteroid 2002 NN4, which was scheduled to pass Earth at approximately 11.20pm last night.

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The asteroid, which has an estimated diameter of up to 570 metres, according to the Centre for Near Earth Object Studies, is estimated to be the size of six football fields.

That makes sense when you realise that, despite being clearly visible, the asteroid was actually around 5.2 million kilometres away from Earth. In other words, it was 13 times further away than the moon is, according to NASA. So at least there was no risk of it hitting us.

david bird asteroid green glowDavid Bird/9News

Also, this asteroid is less than a mile long. And if you’re sat there thinking ‘well, that still sounds pretty long to me’, when you compare it to the largest-known asteroid that orbits the sun you’ll realise it really isn’t.

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Why? Because according to Lindley Johnson of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, that asteroid is a massive 21 miles long. And even then, the probability of an asteroid actually hitting Earth is rare, occurring maybe once every two or three centuries, Johnson told CNN last year.

Back to Asteroid 2002 NN4 though, and although these kind of occurrences seem pretty rare, NASA says they’re actually pretty normal, with an asteroid estimated to be around the same size as this one passing Earth just last August – and experts at the time called it ‘moderately sized’, as per 9News.

lachlan wynn mysterious green asteroidLachlan Wynn/9News

While both of these asteroids were harmless, that’s not always the case with space phenomenon. In 2013, a meteor that was just 17 metres in diameter broke through the Earth’s atmosphere over Russia.

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Although the meteor didn’t actually make impact with Earth, the subsequent blast still injured more than 1,000 people. Luckily, being millions of kilometres away, that didn’t happen with Asteroid 2002 NN4.

If you missed this year’s show I have some bad news for you though, as the next time the asteroid will be anywhere near this close to Earth again will be in June 2029. Better luck next time, hey?

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Science, Asteroid, Astronomy, Australia, NASA, Now, Space

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9News and 2 others