International Asteroid Day

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2024 Date30 June 2024
2025 Date30 June 2025

International Asteroid Day

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International Asteroid Day History

International Asteroid Day is a global event that aims to raise awareness about the potential threat posed by asteroids and the importance of protecting our planet from these celestial bodies. It is an occasion for experts, enthusiasts, and laypeople to come together and discuss asteroid-related issues, such as detection, tracking, and response strategies. The observance promotes international cooperation and encourages governments, organizations, and individuals to take action in reducing the risk of an asteroid impact.

The awareness day was established in 2014, following the release of a documentary entitled 51 Degrees North. The film focused on the real dangers posed by asteroid impacts and underscored the need for increased attention on this issue. The country is home to numerous observatories and has a long history of involvement and interest in matters related to space exploration, thus it is vital for South Africans to engage in discussions surrounding this topic. International Asteroid Day can serve as an opportunity for South Africans to learn about the latest developments in asteroid detection, mitigation, and deflection technologies, which are critical to protecting ourselves and our planet.

In South Africa, International Asteroid Day is typically marked by a series of educational events and activities designed to inform the public about the issue. These may include conferences, workshops, lectures, and exhibitions focusing on asteroids, their potential dangers, and the means to defend against them. Observatories, universities, research institutes, and museums across the country often organize events, encouraging people of all ages to engage with and learn about this important global subject. The Observance takes place every year on June 30th, marking the anniversary of the largest asteroid impact in recent history, the 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia.

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.
  • In South Africa, the Vredefort Dome is recognized as the largest and oldest known impact structure on Earth. Located about 120 km southwest of Johannesburg, it dates back around 2.023 billion years and was formed by an asteroid estimated to be around 10-15 km in diameter.
  • South Africa is home to many meteorite discoveries, such as the Gideon Meteorite found in 1970, the largest South African meteorite weighing 1.77 tons.

Top things to do in South Africa 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 Asteroid vs. Earth (2014). This movie involves a team of experts attempting to prevent a massive asteroid from colliding with Earth and illustrates the global impact of such a catastrophe.
  • Read a book to learn more about astronomy and space science in South Africa. Here are some suggestions:
    1. Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites: Cosmic Invaders of the Earth by Jon Erickson
    2. Astronomy in Southern Africa: A Science for the People by Stephen James O'Meara
    3. Southern Stars: A Guide to the Galaxy in the Southern Hemisphere by Stephen Maran

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