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Asteroid near misses prompt calls for closer watch on the skies

By Nathan Coleman
Saturday, October 26, 2013, 7:45 PM

The notion of a dangerous meteor crashing against the earth used to seem like something out of a science fiction movie. 

Events in Russia this February changed that as people began paying closer attention to what’s zipping around out there in the universe.

The issue was back on the radar lately as asteroid 2013 TV135 made a close approach to Earth in September.

If an asteroid the size of 2013 TV135 ever came into contact with the earth’s ocean, the ensuing tsunami could be devastating. 

Odds that the asteroid miss earth upon its return in 2032 are at 99.99 per cent.

Still, the fact that it was only recently discovered by astronomers in the Ukraine is raising alarm bells.

“The object that will crash into earth, will probably be found by an amateur astronomer," says Paul Heath, the president of the Halifax Royal Astronomical Society.

Heath says the meteor that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February this year was a wake up call for governments around the world. 

“If it had come straight down instead of on a shallow angle, it could have destroyed the city," he says. "The blast, three or four hundred times the size of Hiroshima, could have devastated the city, so we got very lucky. We got the eye opener, as they say, in our face, to convince the politicians that they actually need to start looking for these objects.”

Objects between the earth and the sun can be harder to spot without the use of infrared telescopes.

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