International Asteroid Day

Quick Facts - NZ

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2024 Date30 June 2024
2025 Date30 June 2025

International Asteroid Day

International Asteroid Day in

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International Asteroid Day History

International Asteroid Day is a global observance aimed at raising awareness about asteroids, their potential impact on Earth, and the importance of studying and monitoring these celestial objects. This annual event emphasizes the need to develop human understanding of asteroids, while also enhancing space science and technology to address potential collisions. The day serves as an opportunity for communities worldwide, including New Zealand, to discuss and share information, providing crucial insight into how to prevent harmful asteroid impacts.

The roots of International Asteroid Day date back to 2014, when a group of renowned scientists, astronauts, and artists declared the official observance. The primary motivation was the Tunguska event of 1908 – the largest asteroid impact in recorded history – which devastated a vast area of Siberian forest. For New Zealand, where the skies are often clear and free of light pollution, this day holds particular significance. Having unique access to the southern sky, New Zealanders possess a special opportunity to observe asteroids, engage with experts, and participate in skywatching events – all of which contribute to global scientific cooperation and the protection of our planet.

Astrophotography workshops, telescope viewings, and informative talks are held on International Asteriod Day, giving attendees the chance to familiarize themselves with the southern sky and understand the importance of studying and monitoring asteroids. By participating in these activities, New Zealanders not only strengthen global awareness of potential asteroid threats but also generate excitement and appreciation for the endless marvels of the cosmos. International Asteroid Day is observed annually on June 30th.

International Asteroid Day facts

  • According to, there are more than 600,000 known asteroids in our solar system.
  • The word asteroid was coined by astronomer William Herschel in 1802. It means star like.
  • Ian Griffin, a scientist and astronomer based in New Zealand, has discovered multiple asteroids in his career. He has named several of them after famous New Zealanders, including Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir Ernest Rutherford, and Sir Peter Blake.
  • The Mt John Observatory, located near Lake Tekapo on the South Island, houses New Zealand's most powerful telescope, which is often used to track and gather data on asteroids and other celestial bodies.

Top things to do in NZ for International Asteroid Day

  • Tune into the 2021 Asteroid Day program. The program will include interviews with different personnel, it will explore how technologies have changed, and it will explore what the future has in store for asteroid research.
  • Stay informed about upcoming news and events. Asteroid Day periodically posts information about new asteroids that catch NASA's eye. They also feature virtual events or webinars with astronomers and scientists.
  • Watch a documentary to learn more about asteroids in New Zealand. Here are our suggestions:
    1. Fire in the Sky: Bolides and Superbolides (2008) - A documentary that provides a comprehensive look at meteoroids, meteorites, and asteroids, including some that have struck New Zealand.
    2. Cosmic Collisions (2009) - This Discovery Channel documentary explores the possibility of an asteroid impact on Earth, and includes mention of the Mahuika crater in New Zealand, suspected to be formed by an asteroid or comet impact.
  • Read a book to learn more about meteorites discovered in New Zealand. Here are our recommendations:
    1. Meteorite Craters and Impact Structures of the Earth by Paul Hodge – This book covers impact structures around the world, and there might be some information about New Zealand as well.
    2. Fireballs from Heaven: New Zealand Meteorites by John Patterson – This pamphlet from New Zealand’s GNS Science provides specific information on the meteorites discovered in the country.

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