As Donald Trump’s presidency officially comes to an end and Joe Biden’s begins on Inauguration Day – January 20, 2021 – it’s true that there will be a fair amount of asteroid traffic near our planet in the hours leading up to and proceeding the historic transfer of power in Washington, D.C.

But what many of the tabloid headlines pointing this cosmic fact out this week neglect to mention is that this is hardly unusual at all.

No less than eight asteroids will fly by our planet within 24 hours of the time President-elect Biden is to be sworn in Wednesday, according to NASA’s official catalog. And there’s always the chance we’ll discover a new asteroid or two as they make a close approach that day.

But does all this space traffic portend some sort of catastrophe ordained by the gods or perhaps foreseen by Nostradamus? I don’t know, but I do know that during a similar 48-hour period no less than 14 asteroids made close approaches by Earth.

So that’s almost twice as many asteroid fly-bys in the same period of time, and no one wrote anything about it. In fact, it happened quite recently: yesterday and the day before.

It’s a bit like saying that 8 million lightning strikes are expected to strike our planet on Inauguration Day and playing it up as some sort of clear harbinger of doom. If you’re following along, you may have already guessed that 8 million lightning strikes is the average number seen on our planet per day.

So the alleged barrage of cosmic interlopers swinging by at a pivotal moment for American democracy is no such thing.

There was one somewhat noteworthy asteroid that buzzed by on Monday, however. Asteroid 2021 BO is a newly discovered space rock that passed within about 14,000 miles of our planet. That’s closer than the altitude where many communications satellites orbit.

That’s certainly a close pass, but it’s actually just the sixth closest pass by an asteroid in the past year, and of all those buzz-bys, 2021 BO was the smallest of them at only about one meter across.

To summarize, a very average number of asteroids will be passing near Earth on Inauguration Day. There was a close call from a tiny asteroid to kick off Inauguration Week, but even if it had hit Earth, it would have easily been vaporized in the atmosphere.

So, really, when it comes to Wednesday, anything worth worrying about won’t be coming from space.

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