Last night Apophis made a pretty close pass to the Earth. It was actually visible if you knew what you were looking for and when:
What’s even cooler is they’ve now decided Apophis is bigger than they originally thought. It’s now thought to be about 1,000 feet long. That’s pretty dang big. That’s life-on-Earth changing big. It wouldn’t end life on Earth, but it could completely obliterate a very, very, large city. Which leads me to this rather bothersome article in Astronomynow.com.
First we got:
The asteroid will return to Earth’s neighbourhood again in 2036, but quite how close it will come then is uncertain, as the 2029 approach is predicted to alter its orbit substantially. Obtaining improved physical parameters for Apophis and its orbit is thus of great importance in being able to make better predictions of its future trajectory.
Then, in the same article, we got:
“Although Apophis initially caught public interest as a possible Earth impactor, which is now considered highly improbable for the foreseeable future, it is of considerable interest in its own right, and as an example of the class of Near Earth Objects,” says Goran Pilbratt, ESA’s Herschel Project Scientist.
Now, I think they’ve always felt that the 2029 pass will alter it’s orbit. And, I’m sure they probably felt they had a good idea how it might affect it’s orbit. But, as the 2013 pass has already shown, they were basing that information on bad information. It was off by about 75% apparently.
Okay doomsday peeps, here you go. That means, realistically for now, they have no clue where it will go in 2029.