News and Commentary

In 2020, Why Not?! Refrigerator-Sized ‘Space Rock’ Could Strike Earth On Day Before Election, Top Astrophysicist Says

"It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov. 2." -Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Comet with colorful tail travelling in deep space at high speed.
Maciej Frolow/Getty Images

2020: One out of five stars, wouldn’t recommend.

This year has been beyond bizarre. A month into 2020, House Democrats impeached the president. Then, a pandemic arrived and, like a crummy household guest, it never left. Then NBA legend Kobe Bryant died (followed, in a bizarre PR stunt, by Mr. Peanut). Then the U.K. pulled out of the European Union and a prince and his royal wife moved to Hollywood. Then race riots erupted in cities across America after black men died at the hands of white police.

And then, murder hornets arrived — like the virus, from Asia.

That was all by June.

So it makes perfect sense that the day before Election Day, a refrigerator-sized space rock could strike Earth. That’s what astrophysicist and celebrity scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson says.

Sounds about right for 2020.

The space rock, known only as 2018VP1, is currently racing toward Earth at 25,000 miles per hour and could clip the planet. Still, Tyson was optimistic.

“It may buzz-cut Earth on Nov. 2, the day before the Presidential Election,” he wrote on Instagram. “But it’s not big enough to cause harm. So if the World ends in 2020, it won’t be the fault of the Universe.”

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) offers even better news, putting its chance of  even entering Earth’s atmosphere at less than half of 1%.

“Asteroid 2018VP1 is very small, approx. 6.5 feet, and poses no threat to Earth! It currently has a 0.41% chance of entering our planet’s atmosphere, but if it did, it would disintegrate due to its extremely small size,” the space agency wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, there’s an asteroid the size of London’s famous Big Ben clock tower that will zip past Earth this week.

“The space rock, known as 2020 TGI, will fly safely past Earth on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 10:49 p.m. EST, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies,” Fox News reported. “Researchers estimate 2020 TGI is traveling at a speed of roughly 30,700 miles per hour and will fly past the planet at a distance of just over 7 million miles.”

Scientists estimate 2020 TGI is between 154 and 360 feet wide. And guess when it’s expected to come back? That’s right, the next election year, 2024.

But here’s some worse news: NASA doesn’t always know what’s out there. “In August, an asteroid the size of a pickup-truck flew within 2,000 miles of Earth, the closest ever recorded. It was missed by NASA until after it flew past the planet,” Fox reported.

And remember the dinosaurs? They were just fine until a massive asteroid hit. But NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a conference last year that Earth’s greatest threat is an asteroid strike.

“We have to make sure that people understand that this is not about Hollywood, it’s not about movies,” Bridenstine said, according to “This is about ultimately protecting the only planet we know right now to host life, and that is the planet Earth.”

“We know for a fact that the dinosaurs did not have a space program. But we do, and we need to use it,” he said.

Related: Forget The Murder Hornets. Beware The Cannibal Rats.

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