The Jerusalem Post had an interesting article on 2018 AH, an asteroid that will pass earth on December 27, 2021.
In astronomical terms, it is not huge. The asteroid is about 100 meters in size, the equivalent of the Washington Monument. And there is little chance of it hitting the earth, because it will cruise by at a safe distance of about 4.5 million kilometres.
But this is not the first time 2018 AH made an appearance. As the name suggests, it zoomed by earth in 2018.
But there were a couple of interesting things about that earlier visit that caught my attention.
First it was only 296,758 kilometres away when it slipped by earth, which means it was nearly 100,000 kilometres closer to earth than the moon (384,000 kilometres).
The second thing that concerned astronomers is that they had no idea it was coming. They only saw it two days after it had already zoomed by. Apparently, it had approached on a trajectory from the sun, making it impossible to see.
So what would happen if 2018 AH hit earth?
The Jerusalem Post noted that it would be comparable to the asteroid that exploded above the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Siberia, Russia on June 30, 1908.
In fact, that asteroid was probably smaller than 2018 AH, but it packed a wallop after it exploded in the sky, several kms above the Siberian forest.
Fortunately, it hit in an area with a very sparse population, and it’s believed only three people actually died.
But it flattened about 80 million trees in a 2,150 km2 (830 sq mi) area. It is estimated that the winds from the blast reached speeds of 97,200 kilometres an hour (27 kilometres a second) and people as far away as Washington, DC, felt the air waves and tremors from the blast.
There were also several descriptions of the event from people living closer to the impact site.
In its July, 2, 1918 edition, the Sibir Newspaper wrote about the report it received from a village 200 kilometres from the explosion:
The peasants saw to the northwest, rather high above the horizon, some strangely bright (impossible to look at) bluish-white heavenly body, which for 10 minutes moved downwards. The body appeared as a “pipe”, i.e., a cylinder. The sky was cloudless, only a small dark cloud was observed in the general direction of the bright body. It was hot and dry.
As the body neared the ground (forest), the bright body seemed to smudge, and then turned into a giant billow of black smoke, and a loud knocking (not thunder) was heard as if large stones were falling, or artillery was fired. All buildings shook. At the same time the cloud began emitting flames of uncertain shapes.
All villagers were stricken with panic and took to the streets, women cried, thinking it was the end of the world.
As we read in the last sentence, it’s understandable how people thought they were witnessing the end of the world, because according to the Bible’s apocalyptic literature, asteroids will make an appearance prior to Jesus’ Second Coming.
In his vision of the end times, the Apostle John saw an asteroid the size of a flaming mountain slamming into one of the world’s oceans, after an angel sounded his trumpet.
The devastation from this blast will be so great that it will kill a third of the fish and a third of the ships in the ocean. And the apostle John is adamant about one thing, these are not accidents, but rather part of God’s end time judgments of the earth (Revelation 8:4-5):
The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. 9 A third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. (Revelation 8:8-10 ESV)
The sky seemed to split in two
But there was a second description of the Tunguska asteroid by a man who lived 40 miles (65 kms) away. He spoke of the intense heat and added this unusual statement, that also ties into Bible prophecy, when he said the sky seemed to split in two:
“The sky split in two and fire appeared high and wide over the forest. The split in the sky grew larger, and the entire northern side was covered with fire. At that moment I became so hot that I couldn’t bear it as if my shirt was on fire; from the northern side, where the fire was, came strong heat. I wanted to tear off my shirt and throw it down, but then the sky shut closed, and a strong thump sounded, and I was thrown a few meters.
I lost my senses for a moment, but then my wife ran out and led me to the house. After that such noise came, as if rocks were falling or cannons were firing, the Earth shook, and when I was on the ground, I pressed my head down, fearing rocks would smash it.
When the sky opened up, hot wind raced between the houses, like from cannons, which left traces in the ground like pathways, and it damaged some crops. Later we saw that many windows were shattered, and in the barn, a part of the iron lock snapped.”
This description of the sky splitting in two reminds me of what appears to be another asteroid hit that Apostle John saw in his end-times vision, where he similarly saw the sky splitting apart:
13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (Revelation 6:13-14 NASV)