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2014 AZ5: The Fake Asteroid that Won’t Hit Earth

Artists impression of an asteroid flying by Earth. Credit: NASA

Artists impression of an asteroid flying by Earth. Credit: NASA

Be careful where you get your news. Some websites have headlines that are screaming “GIANT ASTEROID HEADING TO EARTH!” or “2014 END OF THE WORLD!” It’s been billed as the largest threat to Earth in a millennium, and this supposed nearly 300 meter (1,000 ft.) -wide asteroid is spurring “urgent meetings going on among scientists on how deflect it.”

This asteroid can’t hit Earth because it doesn’t exist. Or at the very least, it doesn’t exist yet. The first clue this asteroid is a fake is its name: 2014 AZ5. Asteroids are named for the year they are discovered, and since it is only 2013…. well, you see the issue.

Additionally, this asteroid isn’t listed on JPL’s Small Body Database, or the Minor Planet Center’s website, the official places where all known asteroids are listed. As much as some people like to think there are conspiracies and government cover-ups, absolutely every asteroid that’s ever been detected is listed on these sites.

There is, actually, another asteroid that will be whizzing by Earth this week at a very safe distance of about 950,000 km. On March 9, Asteroid 2013 ET, a very large 100 meter-wide rock will make its closest approach. Gianluca Masi from the Virtual Telescope project will host a webcast from the Virtual Telescope robotic facility in Italy on March 8, 2013 at 19:00 UT (2 pm EST). You can watch for free on their website. “It is worth to underline that there are NO risks at all of collision,” Masi said.

Here’s an image of 2013 ET that Masi took on March 4, 2013:

Asteroid 2013 ET imaged by the Virtual Telescope. Credit: Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope.

Asteroid 2013 ET imaged by the Virtual Telescope. Credit: Gianluca Masi/Virtual Telescope.

Hat tip: Ian Musgrave.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Meredith Neria March 7, 2013, 3:39 PM

    typo alert :)

    ” The first clue this asteroid is a fake is its name: 2013 AZ5. Asteroids
    are named for the year they are discovered, and since it is only 2013….
    well, you see the issue. ”

    Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/100570/2014-az5-the-fake-asteroid-that-wont-hit-earth/#ixzz2MrvbTt5V

  • Tim McDaniel March 7, 2013, 3:41 PM

    “The first clue this asteroid is a fake is its name: 2013 AZ5″. Um, surely you mean 2014?

    Looking up nomenclature, I gather that 2013 A* would have had to have been the 130th minor planet discovered 1-15 January 2013. I used the links and founc there was no 2013 AZ5, but there was 2013 AZ118?! So I have no idea what’s going.

  • Steve March 7, 2013, 10:41 AM

    wait… From the article: “fake is its name: 2013 AZ5. Asteroids are named for the year they are discovered, and since it is only 2013″

    But it is 2013!!!

  • fartrader21 March 7, 2013, 10:48 AM

    Also 1000 feet = 300m, not 3k meters

  • Beau March 7, 2013, 3:56 PM

    Oh no, the author typed “2013 AZ5″ instead of “2014 AZ5.” It must really be the end of the world!

  • GKnightBC March 7, 2013, 10:27 PM

    So many people say the error, and it has now been corrected. An honest mistake by the authour. :)

  • Aqua4U March 8, 2013, 3:32 PM

    Good… maybe I can recycle that flyer I made for our last music party? aka… “It’s the end of the end of the world party!” Only now it’s definitely the end of the end of the world! At least for fear mongers and sensationalistically inclined! “The end of the end of the world party.. Mk II?” How long will this go on? Until the end of time?

    • tealc March 20, 2013, 7:58 AM

      Well atleast its going to be a long PARTY and i love parties

  • Jasper Johns March 8, 2013, 3:34 PM

    All
    this recent asteroid business reminds me of this novel I just read
    called THE MYOSHI EFFECT which is about an asteroid headed toward earth
    and how everybody reacts and the government tries to find a way to
    deflect it. Granted the novel is humorous, like Dr Strangelove or
    Douglas Adams or something, but how we just reacted to these last 2
    space rocks is almost taken from the pages of the book. Fiction and fact
    are fast becoming one.

  • Luke John March 9, 2013, 3:02 PM

    Remember this asteroid’s name “Wormwood” it’s coming soon!

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