Asteroid To Enter Earth’s Atmosphere Tonight (Oct. 6)

Article written: 6 Oct , 2008
Updated: 26 Apr , 2016

Looking for a little excitement tonight? An asteroid between 1-5 meters (3-15 feet) was discovered just hours ago at an Arizona observatory, and might provide a spectacular light show as it comes through Earth’s atmosphere. But don’t be alarmed – scientists predict it will be harmless and burn up before it reaches the ground. It is expected to be visible over eastern Africa, at approximately 2:46 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time (10:46 p.m. Eastern time ). There is no danger to people or property since the asteroid will not reach the ground. It will burn up in the upper atmosphere, well above aircraft heights. A brilliant fireball will be visible as a result. “We want to stress that this object is not a threat,” said Dr. Timothy Spahr, director of the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center. “We’re excited since this is the first time we have issued a prediction that an object will enter Earth’s atmosphere,” Spahr added. Odds are between 99.8 and 100 percent that the object will encounter Earth, according to calculations provided by Andrea Milani of the University of Pisa.

When a meteoroid (small asteroid) enters the atmosphere, it compresses the air in front of it. That compression heats the air, which in turn heats the object, causing it to glow and vaporize. Once it starts to glow, the object is called a meteor.

“A typical meteor comes from an object the size of a grain of sand,” explained Gareth Williams of the Minor Planet Center. “This meteor will be a real humdinger in comparison!”

The meteor is expected to be visible from eastern Africa as an extremely bright fireball traveling rapidly across the sky from northeast to southwest. The object is expected to enter the atmosphere over northern Sudan at a shallow angle.

“We’re eager for observations from astronomers near the asteroid’s approach path. We really hope that someone will manage to photograph it,” said Williams

Source: Center for Astrophysics Minor Planet Center

Image source

24 Responses

  1. Hace apenas unas horas se descubrió un asteroide (2008 TC3) de entre 1 y 5 metros que probablemente dará un espectacular show de luces a medida que descienda por la atmósfera de la Tierra […] Fuente: Nancy Atkinson para Universe Today, y Center for Astrophysics, Minor Planet Center.

  2. Kendall says

    What is the picture of?

  3. Reinier says

    Looks like an aircraft contrail lit by the setting sun.

  4. law mc says

    i too am very interested of what the picture is. looks like a mini tunguska event 🙂

  5. It’s an asteroid. I tried posting the link to where I pulled the image from here in the comments and the autobot thought I was spamming (no one is immune, it seems!) So look for the image source at the bottom of the article.

  6. The most weird and scary is that the asteroid was found just before it hit the earth. Can you imagine if it was a big one….

  7. Silver Thread says

    Man, it’d be AWESOME to capture it.

  8. M Ahsan says

    Latest news tell that the calculations were misleading.

  9. RetardedFishFrog says


  10. Mang says

    Shouldn’t that read “Meteoroid To Enter Earth’s Atmosphere Tonight (Oct. 6)” as the object is less than 5 meters in diameter.

    Still impressive though.

  11. retardedfishfrog, is that a vague reference to end time prophecy!? Anyhow, wish I lived in Africa, that will be so cool!

  12. Pete says

    Augghh! That picture! Sorry, it’s not an asteroid, it’s not a meteor; it is indeed a contrail from the Concorde. This pic made a big splash years ago, with APOD even posting it as a meteoric fireball, and later having to retract that identification.

    One of many links:

  13. Peter says

    So why would you show a photo pf an aircraft con-trail ???

    On 2008 TC3 ……Space Weather has an unconfirmd report of a KLM pilot sighting

  14. Darlington says

    Get with the program guy’s, journalist use stock photos, that’s the nature of the business… so it makes sense, it could be anything and was picked because it looks simular to what the story’s about. Love the work Nancy.

  15. Rey says

    Yeh, I remember that image. It was years ago, in APOD.

  16. Pauly says

    Odds are between 99.8 and 100 percent that the object will encounter Earth

    I don’t like those odds.

  17. Jesus says

    ~~Paulo Ribeiro Says:
    October 6th, 2008 at 6:01 pm
    The most weird and scary is that the asteroid was found just before it hit the earth. Can you imagine if it was a big one.~~

    The reason they just found it was because it’s so small and most definitely harmless, unless it crashes thru your roof.. When you consider the amount of garbage floating in space, it would make deciphering a 3-15 foot meteor from a 3-15 foot piece of space junk very hard.

  18. Gabriel says

    OMG.we’re all gonna die!!

  19. Gabriel says

    I can see the prices going up already and comet protectors sold on the streets.XD

  20. RetardedFishFrog says

    Quantum Flux – I’d say it’s slightly obscure rather than vague. One would have to be familiar with end time prophecy to make the connection. A fifteen foot wide meteor is far from representing God’s wrath. I like to make the occasional quirky comment. Just having fun. 🙂

  21. dethzeppelin says

    if we see one thats earth threatening i have faith well pull a armagedon scenerio where we divert it.

  22. quickcalc says

    Any update on this – e.g. any observations or images to report?????

  23. quickcalc says

    Answering my own post here…

    Post from ‘Peter’ above refers to
    where there appears to be no further news
    Good site though – work a browse if you haven’t already seen it….

  24. Johnny Fish says

    Apparently the asteroid burned up in the atomsphere. Here is a link that discusses more about it. Page down a couple times to read specifically about this asteroid.

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