Asteroid 2011 AG5 missed the keyhole

Welp, there goes another apocalyptic prophecy — this one grounded in reality, mind, but it means we can scrub the 2040 doomsday off our calendar.

Earlier in 2012 only a few observations of AG5 could be made before it got too close to the Sun to see. Those allowed the crude estimate of where it would be in 2040, and that big fuzzy volume of space included the Earth.

However, new observations taken with the monster Gemini telescope in Hawaii allowed a far better orbit to be calculated. The path of the asteroid in 2040 was found, and now clearly does not include the Earth. It will be a clean miss, by about 900,000 kilometers (550,000 miles). This is more than twice the distance to the Moon, if that helps.

With this new calculation, we have little to worry about in 2040. Though, it seems, humanity does love a doomsday. I don’t expect this will truly dissuade people who want another hit of that doomsday high.

Hat tip to Phil Plait in his new digs at Slate.

On this day in space history

On March 22, 2001, an outer main belt asteroid provisionally named 2001FB10 was discovered by David Healy, founder of the Junk Bond Observatory. Its official name is 153289 Rebeccawatson.

That’s right, it was named after the woman probably most famous for making a whole lot of very insecure men very angry about having their sense of entitlement questioned. Rebecca Watson has an asteroid named after her, and you do not. U JELLY?

Additionally, it’s grossly unlikely to end humanity, despite certain howler monkeys’ protestations.