On June 30th, it will be Asteroid Day, an annual event celebrated by 192 countries around the world! Why is Asteroid Day cool? Well, here’s why:
- Asteroid Day was founded in 2014 by Dr. Brian May, who is not only an astrophysicist but also the lead guitarist for the band Queen. Other influential folks involved are Danica Remy (B612 president), Rusty Schweickart (Apollo 9 astronaut), and filmmaker Grig Richters.
- June 30th was chosen as the day for the event because it’s the same day as the “Tunguska Event” in 1908. Learning about this event was one thing that got me into learning about astronomy in the first place. Tunguska is a place in Siberia where on that day, there was such a blast that it knocked over about 80 million trees over a distance of about 2150 square kilometers. Scientists estimate that the shock wave would have measured about a 5.0 on the Richter scale. It is guessed that this blast was caused by a meteor or small asteroid exploding once it entered the Earth’s atmosphere, and it’s considered to be the largest blast of that type in recorded history. There weren’t any deaths caused by this event because Siberia was so secluded and sparsely populated. But the blast itself was greater than that of the attack on Hiroshima. You can learn more about the event here: https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/30jun_tunguska
- Asteroid Day was founded to raise awareness of how cool asteroids are and to talk about both the risks and opportunities they present. It is a UN-sanctioned event.
- Central to this year’s Asteroid Day is the 100x Declaration, which calls for one hundred times the current dedication to research and development that will help protect the Earth and its people from a collision.
- This year is also the first year of Asteroid Day TV, which will air programming for five days about asteroids and coverage of various Asteroid Day events. Twitch has partnered to provide online coverage.
- In the US, the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC will be hosting a panel of asteroid experts who will be discussing asteroids and why they are important. Around the world, there will be other events as well, in countries like Japan, Luxembourg, Austria, Greece, and more.
- To learn more, to take part, or to contribute to this event, check out https://asteroidday.org/
Asteroids are a pretty cool part of our solar system, and we’ve barely begun exploring them. Who knows what the future holds?