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Scientists Want to Look for Large Objects Lurking in June Meteor Shower

Chances of devastating asteroid strike remain "super, super low"
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2018 4:32 PM CST
A meteor streaks across the sky over Grant County, Ind.   (Jeff Morehead/The Chronicle-Tribune via AP)

(Newser) – Meteor showers called Taurids occur twice each year: in June and in late October or early November. The latter event occurs at night, resulting in visible shooting stars. The June shower (in which the meteors are called Beta Taurids) happens during the day. And, while it may not make for spectacular visuals, the June 2019 Beta Taurid could still yield some significant observations. That’s because the earth will be passing near the “densest cluster of material from the Taurid stream,” the Washington Post reports. In a presentation this month before the American Geophysical Union physicists Mark Boslough and Peter brown called for a special observation campaign to search for large objects within the Taurids—objects that are the size, or larger, than the Tunguska object that exploded above Siberia in 1908, flattening trees for some 800 square miles.

“If the Tunguska object was a member of a Beta Taurid stream … then the last week of June 2019 will be the next occasion with a high probability for Tunguska-like collisions or near misses,” they said in the presentation. The pair said they were not predicting another “Tunguska airburst,” but added that the increase in small near-Earth objects increases the probability of such an event. Nonetheless, per the Post, the probability is still very low because space is so big, so “no one is saying that June should be declared National Wear a Helmet Month.” Boslough concurs, telling the paper that the risk of an asteroid strike killing a lot of people is “super, super low.” but, he adds, “it’s not zero.” (It may have happened some 3,700 years ago in the Middle East, per RT.) In the long run, though, he says “There are so many other hazards that are greater risk.” (A meteorite hit the International Space Station in August.)

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