New Year’s Day Asteroid Targets Earth, Hits the Bullseye

By Tom Yulsman | January 4, 2014 12:51 am
New Years asteroid

An animation shows Asteroid 2014 AA as it streaked across the sky on Jan. 1, 2014. (Source: CSS/LPL/UA)

Deep Impact or Armageddon it certainly wasn’t. Not even close. But Asteroid 2014 did put on a nice little show for astronomers as it streaked through space toward its demise over the Atlantic Ocean on New Years Day.

That’s it in the animated GIF above — a chunk of rock about six to nine feet across zipping across the starry background. Asteroid 2014 AA was discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey, which operates near Tucson, Arizona. According to NASA, it entered our atmosphere late on Jan. 1 and likely broke up.

Asteroid 2014 AA Impact Zone

Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Based on the Catalina Sky Survey observations, a scientist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory determined that the asteroid probably exploded in the atmosphere somewhere along the blue line in the map at right.  (Click on it for a larger version.) The red dot indicates the likeliest spot, determined by analysis of low frequency sounds detected by observation sites of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

Luckily, Bruce Willis was not needed to try to save the day. This time.


CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, select, Top Posts
  • Uncle Al

    If it was a practice shot, let’s have it a bit more to the east to avoid Panama and include Yemen. Bring on the 50-meter (re Tunguska) bolide!

  • Jim Nelson

    Perhaps the ‘100 year event’ classification should be re-evaluated.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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