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All clear: Asteroid won’t hit Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046

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NASA graphic of asteroid 2023 DW

The all-clear has been given for a newly-discovered asteroid which had a very small chance of hitting Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046, according to NASA. Meanwhile, astronomers are keeping an eye on yet another newly-discovered asteroid.

2023 DW was discovered by two astronomers in Chile on February 26 and was being monitored by both NASA and the European Space Agency, where it topped the “risk list” for about two weeks.

As a result of new observations this week, the asteroid has been reassigned to 0 on the Torino scale, which means the likelihood of a collision is “zero, or is so low as to be effectively zero.”

The asteroid is about 50 meters (164 feet) in diameter and would’ve had an impact energy equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT. “If this hit Earth, it would likely blow up somewhere in the atmosphere. An airburst over or close to a city would devastate it,” science journalist Dr. Robin George Andrews said earlier this month.

Astronomers are now shifting their attention to 2023 DZ2, which was discovered by astronomers in the Canary Islands on February 27.

The new asteroid is about 64 meters (210 feet) in diameter, more than three times the size of the asteroid which caused an air burst over Russia in 2013, damaging homes and injuring close to 1,500 people.

With 17 days of observations, the asteroid has a 1 in 590 chance of hitting Earth on March 27, 2026. It tops the ESA Risk List with a 1 out of 10 on the Torino scale – meaning there is no cause for public concern at this time. Further observations could reassign the risk to zero.

In January, a newly-discovered asteroid flew past Earth at a height of 3,600 kilometers (2,200 miles), making it one of the closest encounters ever recorded. And in February, a 1-meter asteroid was discovered only a few hours before entering the atmosphere, lighting up the sky in parts of France and Western Europe.

NASA graphic of 2023 DZ2

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