‘Don’t look at asteroid hurtling towards earth’, expert warns

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An expert in astronomy has given his top tip of what to do if an asteroid is found to be heading towards Earth.

Professor Alan Duffy, director of the Space Technology and Industry Institute Professor has said that if a giant boulder of space rock is hurtling our way, "don't look at it".

Duffy gave the obvious-sounding advice to the I've Got News For You podcast.

He said: "I would say the best advice is, for goodness sake, do not look at this thing.

"I mean, it‘s going to be hard not to – the brightness of the glare from these objects burning up in the atmosphere.

"That‘s actually what caused a lot of the injuries in Chelyabinsk (a meteor strike in Russia in 2013), people not unreasonably looked up at this enormous burning fireball in the sky, whose brightness was essentially that of the Sun by the time it finally erupted, that caused a lot of retina damage – so make sure you’re not looking right at it."

The light caused by the Chelyabinsk strike was brighter than the sun and was visible up to around 100km away from the area.

This "don't look" warning comes a few days after NASA fired a rocket at an asteroid in an attempt to find out whether it's possible to force such a large object hurtling through space to change course – in an attempt to form some sort of plan to protect Earth.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission launched from a SpaceX explosive-packed rocket yesterday, with the missile expected to hit Dimorphos in September 2022.

Professor Duffy, however, did say that an asteroid impacting upon earth is "definitely not our biggest problem," and that Dimorphos, which is around 160 metres across, is known only as a "city killer".

He added: "Those things are going to hit the earth about once every 1000 or 2000 years, so it’s not a super rare event by geological standards but is maybe not something we’re going to be worrying about tomorrow."

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