September 28, 2013 – Apophis, Egyptian God of Chaos and Destruction: Pictured above, “Apophis the Destroyer” by Genzoman; depicting the myth and the frightening menace for planet Earth. NASA projects an Earth impact on April 13, 2036. At 600 meters across, this would release as much energy as over four Krakatoa volcanic eruptions – truly a disaster of biblical proportions.
In Egyptian mythology, Apophis was an evil demon, the deification of darkness and chaos, and thus an opponent of the light of order and truth.
As the personification of all that was evil, Apophis was seen as a giant snake, crocodile, serpent, or as a dragon, leading to titles such as Serpent from the Nile, and Evil lizard. Some elaborations even said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint.
Tales of Apophis’ battles against Ra were elaborated during the New Kingdom, since nearly everyone can see that the sun is not attacked by a giant snake during the day. Storytellers said that Apophis must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of the underworld, which attacked the sun each night. In some stories Apophis waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apophis lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night. The wide range of Apophis’ possible location gained him the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apophis was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god and suffered a coup d’état by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned.
The REAL Apophis:
99942 Apophis (pronounced /əˈɒfɪs/, previously known by its provisional designation 2004 MN4) is a near-Earth asteroid that caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 because initial observations indicated a small probability (up to 2.7%) that it would strike the Earth in 2029. Additional observations provided improved predictions that eliminated the possibility of an impact on Earth or the Moon in 2029. However, a possibility remains that during the 2029 close encounter with Earth, Apophis would pass through a gravitational keyhole, a precise region in space no more than about 600 meters across that would set up a future impact on April 13, 2036. This possibility kept the asteroid at Level 1 on the Torino impact hazard scale until August 2006. It broke the record for the highest level on the Torino Scale, being, for only a short time, a level 4, before it was lowered.
NASA initially estimated the energy that Apophis would have released if it struck Earth as the equivalent of 1,480 megatons of TNT. A later, more refined NASA estimate was 880 megatons. The impacts which created the Barringer Crater or caused the Tunguska event are estimated to be in the 3–10 megaton range and the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa was the equivalent of roughly 200 megatons.
The Master of Disaster