Set the stage. Friday the 13th. The Sun Sign of Aries. An ominous glow in the sky brightens. Could it be?
Yes, it is. Asteroid 2004 MN4, some 320 meters wide, capable of rearranging Texas upon impact, comes precariously close to Earth. Two things. It will miss and this won't happen until 2029, well after the Mayan Calendar expires and it will be preceded by other close encounters that most people will never even know exist.
Truly 2004 MN4 will come close. It's projected distance from Earth on 13 April, 2029 will be about 18,600 km, which is closer than our geosyncrhonous satellite family that orbits at a mere 22,300 miles. This object visibly appears in Europe, Asia and Africa even close to population centers. Prior to 2029, this body comes close enough to warrant attention in 2013 and 2021.
Even before this event, asteroid 2002 NT7, with an orbital period of 2.27 years, wanders precariously close to Earth on its orbital path. This potential collision will occur in 2019. The original news story that broke in July 2002 initially reported it would collide with us. Astronomers, wisely and to their credit, now have a time moratorium placed on the release of such data and it must be verified by other sources prior to announcement.
The combined effect of such delays offers no compromise to the safety of life on Earth, dinosaurs, people with the consciousness of dinosaurs, or even those who do not believe in dinosaurs because of evolutionary/creationary conflicts. And best yet, when the news does come out, it is reasonably accurate, calm and does not provoke fear and panic.
Come on now. What fun is that?
Leave it to the movies to scare us. Rest assured that the astronomers do indeed search the skies to see if the life on Earth lottery ticket intends to turn unlucky.