Here's a headline you won't see in the tabloids: "On Saturday night, an asteroid will safely pass by the Earth. No need to fret."
Oh, how I wish. Not only would it be accurate, it wouldn't needlessly worry people. That's a planet I'd like to live on.
Instead, we see headlines like this:
Overblown headline about a near-Earth asteroid from the Daily Star. Credit: The Daily Star
Blarg. Note this is the same rag that breathlessly exclaimed that NASA found a parallel Universe where time runs backward, if you want to know how seriously they take, y'know, accuracy.
Or this one, from the New York Post:
Overblown headline about a near-Earth asteroid from the New York Post. Credit: The New York Post
Double blarg. I'm not even sure what that one means. "May" zoom past Earth? Has it not yet made up its mind? Those fickle space rocks!
Other such articles can be found, each more spittle-flecked than the last. I swear, sometimes I think the most danger I'm in from asteroids is the headache I get from pounding my forehead against my desk.
So what's the deal here?
The asteroid is called 163348 (2002 NN4); I'll call it NN4 ...