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Click on the image to learn more about this artist's impression a a new family of asteroids from NASA/JPL-Caltech


Are you ready for impact?

IPS partners with Asteroid Day


From article by the same name in Planetarian, Vol. 45, No. 2, June 2016


Jennifer Arriaga
Asteroid Day event communications manager, London, United Kingdom
Grigorij Richters
Asteroid Day executive director, London, United Kingdom
Thomas W. Kraupe
IPS past president, Planetarium Hamburg, Germany 


Asteroid Day and the International Planetarium Society have joined forces. Asteroid Day is an annual global awareness campaign that allows people from around the world come together to learn about asteroids and what we can do to protect our planet, families, communities, and future generations from asteroid impacts. The International Planetarium Society is in partnership with Asteroid Day to support this worldwide public education effort about asteroids and the associated science and scientists working in the field.

The Beginnings

In February 2014, Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and famed guitarist for the rock band Queen, began working with Grigorij Richters, the director of a new film titled 51 Degrees North, a fictional story of an asteroid impact on London and the resulting human condition.

May composed the music for the film and suggested that Richters preview it at Starmus, an event organized by Dr. Garik Israelian and attended by esteemed astrophysicists, scientists, and artists, including Dr. Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and Rick Wakeman—plus planetarians like Thomas Kraupe. The result was the beginning of discussions that would lead to the launch of Asteroid Day in 2015.

To ensure that the movement had global support, Dr. May then introduced Richters to the B612 Foundation, an American-based non-profit advocacy organization created to protect the world from dangerous asteroids through early detection.
From B612, Apollo 9 Astronaut Rusty Schweickart, three-time Astronaut Dr. Ed Lu, and Chief Operation Officer Danica Remy, brought to Asteroid Day a network of planetary defense specialists and global contacts.  Soon joining May as advisors to Asteroid Day were Schweickart, Lu, and Remy, as well as Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal of the UK; musical artist Peter Gabriel; and other planetary defense experts.

In all, there are 4 co-founders for Asteroid Day: May, Richters, Schweickart, and Remy.

Richters’ next move was to engage Dr. Mark Boslough, a well-respected asteroid scientist, to join Rusty Schweickart in organizing the Asteroid Day Expert Panel, and Dave Eicher, editor of Astronomy magazine, who became the editor-in-chief of the day. Through ensuing conversations with all players, the concept for a day dedicated to asteroid awareness around the globe was born. Now to “make it happen.”

The 100X Declaration

Part of Asteroid Day is the 100X Declaration, which calls for three actions:

  • Use available technology to detect and track near-Earth asteroids by both governments and private organization;
  • Accelerate the asteroid discovery rate to 100,000 per year within the next 10 years; and
  • Adopt globally Asteroid Day on June 30.

The date of June 30 was selected because it is the anniversary of the largest impact in recent history, the 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia.

“The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it became that the human race has been living on borrowed time,” remarked May. “Asteroid Day and the 100X Declaration are ways for the public to contribute to an awareness of the Earth’s vulnerability and the realization that Asteroids hit Earth all the time. Asteroid Day would the vehicle to garner public support to increase our knowledge of when asteroids might strike and how we can protect ourselves.”

“Early warning is the essential ingredient of planetary defense,” said Schweickart. “Time is the issue.  At the current rate of discovery of 20-meter NEOs and larger at about 1,000 per year, it will take more than 1,000 years to find one million NEOs that potentially threaten Earth.  That’s a long time and even then we’d have reached only 10% or so of the Chelyabinsk-size objects that potentially threaten impact.”

A press conference to announce the launch of Asteroid Day was held simultaneously in London and San Francisco on December 3, 2014. Representing Asteroid Day in London were Richters, May, and Rees, and in San Francisco, Schweikart, Lu, and Astronaut Tom Jones, president of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE). Lord Martin Rees read the 100X Declaration, and the list of signatories for the declaration rapidly grew to include hundreds of esteemed scientists, physicists, astronauts, and Nobel Laureates from 30 countries and leaders in business and the arts.

Original signers include Anousheh Ansari, Stewart Brand, Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins, Alan Eustace, Peter Gabriel, Steve Jurvetson, Jane Luu, Dr. Brian May, Greg McAdoo, Peter Norvig, Helen Sharman, Jill Tarter, Kip Thorne, and more than 38 astronauts and cosmonauts.

To date, the 100X Declaration has been signed by more than 17,000 private citizens. For a full listing of notable signatories, visit

What began as a scientifically-based declaration about the need for rapid discovery of asteroids to ensure the defense of our planet grew to a global movement of awareness regarding this solvable nature-caused problem that included more than 150 self-organized events around the globe.

You and Asteroid Day

Last year’s global response was outstanding and Asteroid Day 2016 is anticipated to be even greater, also because Asteroid Day and IPS are now joining forces. This article is the first of many more to come: articles to be published back and forth between websites, newsletters, and other vehicles as appropriate. At each others’ respective conferences and events, both organizations will work on appropriate joint formats and—most importantly—will engage in ongoing conversations about best practices in education and public relations.

This year’s goal for Asteroid Day is to reach 300 events worldwide, in hope of spreading global awareness and scientific knowledge. To assist in reaching this goal, AD and IPS is reaching out to members and local communities and encouraging them to coordinate self-organized Asteroid Day activities, on/around June 30, 2016.

Although the event is promoted on June 30, we encourage everyone to host activities all year long. If interested in self-organizing an event in your area, Asteroid Day is providing the educational tools and resources, alongside an event organizers guide, to assist in kick starting your event.

A notable resource Asteroid Day offers is the ability to submit a request to have an astronaut attend your event, foreseeing that your organization is able to cover travel costs or if one is local in your area and available. Event organizers will also get free access to an 8-minute planetarium show produced by the European Space Agency, one of Asteroid Day’s major partners. This production will be made available in German, English, Spanish, Italian and French.

Furthermore, event organizers will have access to signatory videos and the feature film 51 Degrees North to screen at their event.

We would also like to mention that Discovery Science, another Asteroid Day major partner, will run an 11-day-long campaign around the world and is interested in partnering with local planetariums. To submit any requests, contact the Asteroid Day event communications manager, Jennifer Arriaga at or if you have any other questions.

For more information and details about Asteroid Day, visit

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