Let’s say a huge boulder over a hundred feet in diameter was heading directly toward Earth. How much warning would we get?
Asteroid 2016 QA2 discovered. Flyby Aug 28 at 01:24 UT. Dist: 0.23 LD (0.22 LD from Earth surface). Size: 16-52 m. https://t.co/yBx2qOUEp5
— Minor Planet Center (@MinorPlanetCtr) August 28, 2016
If you answered, “Less than 24 hours,” ding, ding, ding! We’ve got a winner.
This asteroid was originally spotted by Sonear – Southern Observatory for Near Earth Asteroids Research, which as far as I can see is a dedicated hobbyist in Brazil!
SONEAR discovered last night a small asteroid about 40 meters in diameter and that will pass 83,000 kilometers from Earth tonight at 22:25 Brasilia Time or 01:25 Universal Time, which means 1/4 Moon-Earth distance. The closest approach will be observed with a magnitude of 10.6, but the best place is Europe. The temporary designation is S510921 and as soon MPC assign an official designation, we will update the information.
The asteroid was just over 50,000 miles away, about ¼ the distance between us and the Moon. That is really, really close.
It’s tough to say what a rock that size might do, but it was certainly capable of being the worst natural disaster in recorded history.
As you were.