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A SpaceX Rocket is Going to Collide With the Moon. But Can You Watch It Happen?

You don't need to hole up in your underground bunker for this one.

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Moon over a forest at night.
Getty Images: Jasmin Merdan

A SpaceX rocket is set to collide with the moon. But don’t worry, the crash shouldn’t lead to any catastrophic events for us earth-dwellers.

According to meteorologist Eric Berger, the Falcon 9 rocket has been “following a somewhat chaotic orbit” shortly after it was launched by Florida way back in 2015 in order to get a space weather satellite to the Lagrange point, a gravity-neutral position in direct line with the sun that is four times farther than the moon.

Now, seven years later, space observers believe the rocket will crash into our favorite (and frankly deeply important) lunar rock in early March.

Bill Gray, a data analyst who writes software to track objects near the Earth, including comets, asteroids, and even minor planets, wrote that the Falcon 9 “made a close lunar flyby on January 5” and predicted that it will have a lunar collision on March 4. Gray and others believe it will “land” on the far side of the moon (likely near the equator) at a velocity of about 2.58km/s.

“This is the first unintentional case [of space junk hitting the moon] of which I am aware,” Gray wrote.

Before you start heading for your underground bunker or buying a ticket for one of Elon Musk’s rocket excursions, you should know that this collision is not expected to impact the earth in any major way.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, tweeted that the crash landing was “not a big deal” beyond possibly allowing space experts to gather some new data given the unprecedented nature of the event.

So no, this is not the start of the apocalypse or anything like that, it’s just an unusual occurrence. In fact, since the collision is taking place shortly after the new moon, it likely won’t even be able to be observed, as Gray noted that “the bulk of the moon is in the way.” And at least it’ll be good for scientific inquiry? Whatever. We’re bummed we won’t be able to see it.

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