MONTREAL – A number of astronomers around the world watched closely Wednesday as the asteroid named Apophis swept past Earth.
The asteroid is of particular interest as research has suggested there is a remote possibility it could collide with the planet in 2036.
Sky watchers were able to view live images online Wednesday of the asteroid passing by, this time at a safe distance.
Over the next few days, Apophis, which is just over 300 metres in diameter, will come within only 15 million kilometres of the Earth.
While that’s far beyond the orbit of the moon and far enough away not to cause any concern, scientists say it will come even closer in 16 years.
Andrew Fazekas, a spokesman for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, said the asteroid will pass about 30,000 kilometres above the Earth in 2029.
Fazekas said research done on near-Earth asteroids has shown there’s a small chance there could be an impact with Apophis when it comes around again in April 2036.
But he added that further calculations need to be done because the asteroid’s orbit could be changed slightly by the gravitational pull from the Earth after this year’s visit.
People were able to go online at slooh.com and view the asteroid live during its fly past.
The images were provided by a robotic telescope located in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.