​Mars And Asteroid Bennu Will Be Visible On Valentine’s Day, According To NASA

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​Mars And Asteroid Bennu Will Be Visible On Valentine’s Day, According To NASA

As Valentine’s Day looms, many of us are looking for ways to impress – whether that’s with a slap-up meal, a ‘love sausage‘ or even, dare we say, a proposal.

But what about taking your sweetheart out into the evening to gaze up at the asteroid that may soon lead to our apocalypse? D’awwww, you shouldn’t have!

On 14 February this year, the asteroid Bennu will be visible in the night sky, and as an added bonus, so will Mars.

Around one hour after sunset, the Red Planet will appear as a little red dot in the sky, and if you use a telescope, you might be able to spot Bennu – which got its ominous nickname of the ‘apocalypse asteroid’ because there’s a tiny (like, really quite tiny) risk of it hitting Earth during the 21st Century.

NASA wrote: “On Valentine’s Day, Bennu will be located just to the right of Mars – about the width of your fist held at arm’s length.

So on the 14th give a little wave to Bennu – and OSIRIS-Rex while you’re at it.”

NASA probe OSIRIS-Rex, which is currently orbiting Bennu to collect samples. Credit: PA
NASA probe OSIRIS-Rex, which is currently orbiting Bennu to collect samples. Credit: PA

Bennu was first discovered back in 1999 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project, which is dedicated to finding and tracks near-Earth objects.

The asteroid rock is 500 feet tall and classified by NASA as ‘potentially hazardous’ but the chances of it actually hitting our planet are thankfully very, very slim.

NASA said: “Asteroid experts at the Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, project that Bennu will come close enough to Earth over the next century to pose a 1 in 2,700 chance of impacting it between 2175 and 2196.

“Put another way, those odds mean there is a 99.963 percent chance the asteroid will miss the Earth. Even so, astronomers want to know exactly where Bennu is located at all times.”

You may also spot Mars on 14 February. Credit: PA
You may also spot Mars on 14 February. Credit: PA

NASA probe OSIRIS-Rex is currently orbiting in the asteroid on an observatory mission, with plans to touch down in 2020.

After landing on the asteroid, the probe will collect samples from the 4.5-billion-year-old space boulder to bring back to Earth, with hopes that these could offer us an insight to how life began.

Okay, so it may not be romantic as such – but you can’t deny it’d be interesting, which I think you’ll find is far better than any crappy stuffed teddy bear…

Featured Image Credit: NASA

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