Today is Asteroid Day.
There's no need for concern: No dangerous asteroids are predicted to be heading our way. Rather, the United Nations commemorates Asteroid Day every June 30, the anniversary of the famous 1908 Tunguska event, in which an incoming space rock flattened about 800 square miles (2,070 square kilometers) of Siberian forest.
Asteroid Day is an annual celebration of asteroid science — and an annual reminder of how important it is to study these objects to protect future generations of Earthlings from the damage they might cause if they strike the planet.
The main Asteroid Day festivities are in Luxembourg, with the primary festival there actually occurring on Saturday (July 1). All day long, scientists, space explorers and universities will feature in talks and demonstrations. There will even be an astronauts' autograph session. Asteroid Day will also feature a live broadcast from scientists and astronauts at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). You can watch it in the window above or here.
Asteroid Day is also celebrated by dozens of local events hosted all across the globe. Many are online, including free talks from scientists and astronauts. A number will focus on NASA’s recent DART mission, which successfully crashed into and redirected a small asteroid last fall.
Asteroid Day began in 2014 as a collaboration between Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, asteroid safety advocate Danica Remy, filmmaker Greg Richters and Queen guitarist Brian May, who also happens to be an astrophysicist. In 2016, the program gained the official backing of the United Nations.
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Rahul Rao is a graduate of New York University's SHERP and a freelance science writer, regularly covering physics, space, and infrastructure. His work has appeared in Gizmodo, Popular Science, Inverse, IEEE Spectrum, and Continuum. He enjoys riding trains for fun, and he has seen every surviving episode of Doctor Who. He holds a masters degree in science writing from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) and earned a bachelors degree from Vanderbilt University, where he studied English and physics.