Get Free Daily Alerts Of Close Asteroid Flybys

Now you can get the latest asteroid news delivered by e-mail. Click the image to subscribe to the Daily Minor Planet. Credit: NASA
Now you can get the latest asteroid news delivered by e-mail. The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center, in collaboration with volunteers from the Oracle Corporation, has put together a daily alert for passing near-Earth asteroids. Today’s is above. Click the image to subscribe. Credit: IAU

Like knowing what asteroid will be whizzing by Earth next? You’re in luck because now you can subscribe to the Daily Minor Planet, a brand new service that delivers daily reports on the latest asteroid happenings di-rect to your inbox.

“Most people don’t realize how common asteroid flybys are,” said Matt Holman, director of the Minor Planet Center and astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). “We want the Daily Minor Planet to educate readers in an entertaining way, so the next time they see a doom-and-gloom asteroid headline, they’ll know where to go to find the facts.”

The e-alert comes in two formats. This is the "modern" version. Credit: NASA
The DMP comes in two formats. This is the “modern” version. Credit: IAU

The e-alert’s name combines the title of the fictional newspaper home of Superman’s Clark Kent, the Daily Planet, with the historical name of asteroids, or minor planets. In a nod to the real-life newspaper world, it will be available in two formats: classic and modern. If only Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane were on the staff.

Almost every day, a known asteroid passes within a few million miles of Earth. On those dates, the Daily Minor Planet will list the flyby asteroid along with the time and distance of its closest approach. On days without a cosmic flyby, the report will feature a newly discovered asteroid or highlight an article from the popular press.

A graphic showing the number of large Near-Earth asteroid discoveries by programs devoted to searching for potentially hazardous asteroids. Notice that the number of large objects has dropped off because most have been discovered. Credit: NASA
A graphic showing the number of large Near-Earth asteroid discoveries by programs devoted to searching for potentially hazardous asteroids. Notice that the number of large objects has dropped off because most have been discovered. Smaller objects remaining to be discovered number in the hundreds of thousands. Credit: NASA

The Daily Minor Planet continues a collaboration that began with Asteroid Explorers, a website designed to increase public awareness of asteroids and their impact and risks to the world. That website’s interactive tools allow visitors to investigate questions like “Which asteroids have the highest risk of impacting Earth?” and “Which asteroids are easiest to travel to?”

This month alone, some 1070 new asteroids have been discovered with 120 of them of the Earth-approaching class. Don’t even try to guess how many we know about as of today’s date (OK, it’s 717,768). In other words, expect regular updates of new discoveries!

Now that I’ve whet your appetite, take a moment to subscribe to this delightful asteroid rag at http://minorplanetcenter.net/daily-minor-planet.