This week, an Empire State Building-sized “mega” asteroid is accelerating to Earth,media reported. At least sputnik, a Russian-funded news site, reports. In fact, as the report notes after the gruesome headline, asteroid 2019 UO will pass safely through Earth on January 10, 2019 at a distance of 2,808,194 miles (4,519,351 kilometers).
Now, it seems that the media like stoically uses the terms used by scientists to discuss celestial bodies in such misleading news headlines or reports, such as the astronomical terms “neo” and “potentially dangerous asteroids” (PHA) using very specific definitions to classify celestial bodies.
For non-scientists, calling an asteroid “near” seems strange when it is far the distance from Earth than any human has traveled. Of course, this makes sense when dealing with exciting cosmic scales. The same is true of PHA. In the vast universe, there is reason to call them PHA, although most PHAs are not actually potentially dangerous in everyone’s lifetime. So the next time you see the headline “How Huge Space Rocks Threaten The Earth,” it’s more appropriate to have a detailed look at their background information.