Making an Impact: Lights, Camera and Asteroid!

Impact of asteroid into city scene from film Earth Storm (2006)

More than 100 years have passed since the first film was shown in movie theatres that depicted events surrounding a rock from space making an impact with Earth — although in that case it was a comet rather than an asteroid.

That movie, a silent black and white film called The End of the World, released in 1916, was inspired by the passage of two comets — the so-called Great Daylight Comet of 1910, closely followed that year by Halley’s Comet.

There was much hysteria surrounding these two events, in particular mass panic about the possibility of being poisoned by the hydrogen cyanide gas that had recently been detected in the coma of Halley’s Comet.

Since then, we have been inundated with fictional depictions of an asteroid or comet heading for Earth.

Below is an A to Z of all of the movies and TV shows which feature an asteroid or comet impact threat. One or two of the perpetrators are not technically asteroids or comets, but are massive rocks from space nonetheless. If you’d prefer a shorter version, there’s an A to Z without narrative.

So, what you’re telling me is that there’s something out there in space. You don’t know what it’s made of but you’re pretty sure it’s headed toward Earth. It may break up and burn off but you don’t know exactly where. It may change course and miss but you don’t know exactly when. Well, I’m grateful for all the expert advice.

A Fire in the Sky (1978)

The list covers cinema releases, made-for-TV movies, internet movies, miniseries, a handful of single TV show episodes, and a phenomenal dramatised documentary which (like planet Earth in most of these dramas) is unmissable. A handful of titles on the list have been re-released with different titles or cuts (all shown).

But before I start, I want to say two things. Firstly…

It’s the size of Texas

When the astronomer at the observatory or the man at Mission Control declares the approaching asteroid to be “the size of Texas” — which seems to be the go to size comparison in certain asteroid impact disaster movies — what does that size actually mean? Does the asteroid have a width, length, mean geometric diameter or flat face the size of Texas, or do we wrap Texas around the asteroid?

Texas has a surface area of around 696,000 km² and an asteroid the size of Texas could have a diameter of 1,265 km, 940 km or 470 km depending on the context and how you calculate it. You can read more about that in It’s the Size of Texas.

The asteroid that it is thought led to the demise of the non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago may have been the size of Hollywood (measured from Studio City to East Hollywood), or about 10km (6 miles). Most comets may be smaller than around 16 km (10 miles).

[Jump to list]

And secondly, I want to say…

It’s not a meteor

In many of these movies, the term ‘meteor’ is misused and its misuse begets misuse — a meteor is what moviegoers now expect the incoming antagonist to be called, so moviemakers continue to call it that every step of the trajectory.

But there is only a meteor when the object is in the meteor phase. A meteor is the bright phenomenon that we see in the sky due to something striking and burning up in the atmosphere. The meteor is the heat, light and ionisation associated with that.

There is no atmosphere in space — and where there’s no atmosphere, there’s no meteor. You can read more about that in Meteoroids, Meteors and Meteorites.

[Jump to list]

It’s a multiple choice

Take a deep breath because the disaster mitigation attempts you are about to encounter cover everything from nuclear warheads on surface-to air-missiles, space-based missiles, sub-sea missiles, thrown into trenches, dropped into volcanoes and drilled into the asteroid, to kinetic impactors, gravity tractors, zero-gravity levitation devices, carbon-fibre mesh trawlers, magnetic rail guns, triangulated laser guns, plasma canon drones, Mylar light sails, self-sealing nanomaterials, repulsive energy-field devices, spread focus laser generators, super-heated surfaces, reflective paint, EM drives, EM pulse machines, weaponised asteroids, stealth asteroids, super weapons, hijacked space probes, clandestine trajectory alterations, theoretical energy sources, homemade rockets and chemical concoctions, doomsday machines, mini black holes, the Brayburg effect, the fifth element, underground bunkers, building arks, joining cults, mass evacuation, planetary evacuation, making the Earth intangible, cloaking it in a carbon-fibre shield, pushing it out of the way with the rocket effect, jolting it out of the way with an induced tectonic shift, shifting it back by igniting the world’s largest natural gas reserve — and when all that fails, digging yourself into a hole in the ground or standing on a beach and waiting for the impact to happen. And there’s always an ill-fated reporter on the trail.

The following list of titles was last updated on 9 September 2021. Links may be to any of Amazon, IMDb, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, a film archive, or the film company website.

Lights, camera and asteroid!

A Day On The Asteroid (2009)

A Day on the Asteroid (2009). If you make it through this list you will have spent much more than a day on the asteroid. My list starts not with a disaster movie but a little film set in 3032 about a Chief Inspector sent to investigate increasing disturbances in the space-time continuum related to wormhole activities on an asteroid mining colony.

Trailer | Watch

Scene showing the devastation of Phoenix in A Fire in the Sky (1978)

A Fire in the Sky (1978). TV movie. A newly-discovered comet is on course to impact Earth in a massive airburst over the Arizona desert, although if, when and precisely where it will strike, no-one can agree. After a failed military nuclear intercept, mass evacuation is the only option before Phoenix and everything else within 100 miles is obliterated.


Anna's Storm (2007) aka Hell's Rain (2007)

Anna’s Storm (2007) aka Hell’s Rain (2007). TV movie. The town of Cottonwood, Colorado is caught up in a meteor storm that rains debris down across the state without warning. Residents struggle to survive the meteorite falls as the town’s Mayor tries to instil calm. Meanwhile, psychic messages from her dead son inform her that the meteorites are the precursor to a larger asteroid threat.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Apocalypse, CA (2011). A group of friends seeking a fitting end to the end of the world head to the desert outside Palm Springs towards the predicted impact site of an asteroid that will strike within days. Everything they once knew no longer makes sense in this countdown to the apocalypse. As a metaphor for the approaching asteroid, a 50-foot woman goes around crushing people at random in this off-beat story.

Trailer | Watch US

Apocalypse Tomorrow aka Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse (2014)

Apocalypse Tomorrow (2014) aka Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse (2014) aka Zodiac: Signs of Destruction (2014). When an ancient astrological carving is uncovered in a Peruvian mine, a wave of natural disasters kick off. Depicting twelve events linked to the signs of the zodiac, the final event marks the return of a long-period planet that will destroy Earth. A scientist overcomes floods, fireballs, volcanic fury and Feds to reunite the carving with a stone that activates an energy field to shield the world from destruction.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

The asteroid the size of Texas in the film Armageddon (1998)

Armageddon (1998). A blockbuster (literally) about a team of deep core drillers tasked by NASA to go and plant a nuclear bomb in a fault line on a massive metal asteroid the size of Texas that is on course to impact in the Pacific Ocean. There’s more than one nod to The Right Stuff in this movie.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Asteroid heading into the city in Asteroid (1997)

Asteroid (1997). TV miniseries. Not one but two asteroids are perturbed from the asteroid belt by the return of a long-period comet. Kansas City and Dallas are the impact targets. With insufficient warning and a failed nuclear intercept attempt, mass evacuation is the only option. Unfortunately, the family of the astronomer who discovered the threat live right in the path of one of the asteroids.


Firing a rocket containing a chemical concoction up into the incoming asteroid.

Asteroid: Final Impact (2015) aka Asteroid Impact (2015) aka Meteor Assault (2015). TV movie. A whistleblower scientist who used to run an asteroid tracking program that was clandestinely being used as a spy satellite, reactivates it to locate a dark asteroid on course to hit the western continental US within hours in a catastrophic impact. With a homemade rocket he fires a chemical compound into the asteroid which implodes in an instantaneous chain reaction.

Trailer | Watch | DVD

View from space showing explosions around the globe at the fault lines and the incoming asteroid in Asteroid vs Earth (2014)

Asteroid vs Earth (2014). TV movie. An asteroid one quarter the size of the Moon is on course to collide with Earth. A geophysicist is tasked with inducing a massive tectonic displacement using nuclear weapons to move Earth out of the way. A deep sea trench and an island volcano are the two routes to get the missiles into the Earth’s core.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Woman looking scared up at sky in Before The Fall aka Tres Dias (2008)

Before the Fall (2008) see Tres Días (2008).

Scene showing Mercury approaching Earth from film Collision Earth (2011)

Collision Earth (2011). TV movie. The Sun momentarily becomes a powerful magnetar, magnetising Mercury and knocking it onto a collision course with Earth. An abandoned weaponised asteroid project is resurrected to deflect it. The asteroid isn’t the threat to Earth here, but there’s an impact threat from Mercury nevertheless.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Collision Earth (2020), a film about an asteroid impact threat.

Collision Earth (2020). TV movie. A disgraced military meteoriticist believes that asteroid Phaethon was perturbed during its perihelion and is heading towards Earth hidden inside its own meteor cloud. Odds are it will strike Manitoba with the force of a million Hiroshimas. VR-operated plasma drones and a nuclear attack fail to destroy it and Earth’s orbital meteor shield can’t stop it. Will the Braeburg effect work?

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Scene from film Doomsday Rock (1997) explaining the cave paintings

Cosmic Shock (1997) see Doomsday Rock (1997).

Scene showing the atmosphere chain between the two gypsy moons in the film Crash of the Moons (1954)

Crash of the Moons (1954) aka Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Crash of Moons (1954). TV movie (three episode story of a TV series). The planet Ophecius is in the collisional path of one of a binary pair of gypsy moons. The inhabitants of the planet and the colliding moon, as well as a nearby space station, must all be evacuated before the impact due to take place within days.


The Last Train aka Cruel Earth (1999)

Cruel Earth (1999). See The Last Train (1999).

Ectoranium asteroid passing through an intangible Earth in Danny Phantom Phantom Planet (2007)

Danny Phantom “Phantom Planet” (2007). Animated TV series [S3, Ep 12–13]. An attempt to blow up an approaching Ectoranium asteroid on course to impact Earth is scuppered. A haunt of ghosts have to make the Earth intangible so that the asteroid will pass right through.


Scientist looking at asteroid Rickenbach 10-31 on screen in film Deadly Skies aka Force of Impact aka Ultimate Limit (2006)

Deadly Skies (2006). See also Force of Impact (2006) aka Ultimate Limit (2006). TV movie. An astronomer tracks a number of meteoroid impacts to an asteroid the size of Texas. But that asteroid will pass by Earth safely. It’s the unseen rogue asteroid that struck it which is the main threat. An ex-Air Force Major resurrects an aborted secret ground-based laser weapon to deflect it just in the nick of time.

Watch Original | Watch Alternative

Tsunami rushing towards the beach in Deep Impact (1998)

Deep Impact (1998). Movie about a comet heading for Earth, a failed nuclear intercept mission, and a lottery to decide which citizens will be allotted shelter in underground bunkers before the comet fragments impact. Told largely from the viewpoint of a reporter on a US TV news network, who chooses beach over bunker when the tsunami strikes.


Don't Look Up (2021). Credit: Netflix

Don’t Look Up (due for release 2021). Two astronomers discover an object* heading for Earth but no-one believes them (a hazard of the job in this genre) so they embark on a media tour to get attention. *Information about the object changes each time Netflix issues a press release: originally it was an asteroid, now it’s a comet. The production company is Hyperobject Industries, so it could be an interstellar object on a hyperbolic trajectory like ‘Oumuamua that no-one can agree upon in real life! What we do know is it’s the size of Hollywood — that’s the cast, not the object.

Netflix | Teaser (at 2:14)

Scene from film Doomsday Rock (1997) explaining the cave paintings

Doomsday Rock (1997) aka Cosmic Shock (1997). TV movie. An astrophysicist-anthropologist takes over a military missile silo to try to intercept an asteroid he believes will collide with Earth based on a prediction he discovered in a series of ancient Aboriginal cave paintings. The authorities approach his daughter to try and stop him. But his predictions turn out to be correct.


Figuring out what the coordinates mean in Earthfall (2015)

Earthfall (2015). TV movie. A close encounter with a rogue planet changes Earth’s tilt and orbit, sending it towards the asteroid belt. Half the planet is plunged into perpetual night and storms ravage the surface. With subtle nods to a 1977 classic, separate groups of civilians are drawn towards a secret Government facility based on a set of coordinates sprawled on flyers and buildings. The plan is to ignite the largest natural gas reserve on the planet with the world’s entire nuclear arsenal to restore Earth into a stable orbit.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Two scientists look at Moon in control room scene in Earth Storm (2006)

Earth Storm (2006). TV movie. When the Moon is struck by an asteroid, a fragment of the Moon breaks off and impacts Earth. The unstable Moon creates major disruption to Earth’s weather and tides. Now a massive fault poses the risk of even bigger fragments hitting Earth with devastating consequences. A demolition specialist is sent to implode the Moon using an unproven EM pulse machine to recharge the magnetic field being generated in the core and close up the fault.

Trailer | Watch

Scene in cave with meteorite in film Evolution (2001)

Evolution (2001). Comedy movie about a meteorite impact in the Arizona desert that contains the building blocks of alien life which goes through exponential evolution of hundreds of millions of years in a matter of days. Two college professors try to find out what is going on to the annoyance of the military.

Trailer | Watch

Scene showing massive incoming meteor over desert mountains in film Total Eclipse (2008)

Fall of Hyperion (2008) see Total Eclipse (2008).

Fish Story (2009)

Fish Story (2009). Before the Sex Pistols there was Gekirin, a Japanese punk band and its only album, Fish Story, released in 1975 with lyrics lifted from a mistranslated book. It never sold. Fast forward. Hours before a comet is to become the greatest hit of 2012 and a tsunami engulf Japan, a solitary record shop remains open in Tokyo. The owner is playing one of the last surviving copies of Fish Story to one the last remaining customers in the city. How a silent gap in a song that never sold can save the planet.

Trailer | Film Archive | Amazon

Scene showing ground based laser weapon at full power in film Deadly Skies aka Force of Impact (2006)

Force of Impact (2006) aka Ultimate Limit (2006). See Deadly Skies (2006).

Scene showing launch of garbage ball in Futurama: A Big Piece of Garbage (1999)

Futurama: “A Big Piece of Garbage” (1999). Animated TV sitcom [S1, Ep 8]. Spoof of Armageddon (1998). Earth is in the path of a giant ball of garbage from Old New York launched into space by the mob in the 21st Century. An attempt to plant a bomb into a fault line fails, so a second ball of garbage is launched to deflect it.


Futureshock: Comet Impact (Impact Earth) (2007).

Futureshock: Comet Impact (2007) aka Impact Earth (2008). TV movie. A comet impacts off the coast of Ireland creating a devastating tsunami. The astronomer who failed to detect it receives NASA funding to develop a reliable NEO observation program. He discovers the comet was part of a chain that will strike the USA in a K-T size event. The military plan a nuclear deflection, the astronomer warns against it and the world goes into economic meltdown in anticipation.


Gorath movie (1962) South Pole construction site

Gorath (1962) aka Yōsei Gorasu (1962) translated as Ominous Star Gorath. Not an asteroid, but what turns out to be a collapsed star, threatens to destroy Earth in a gravitational collision. In a global collaboration, massive rocket thrusters are installed at the South Pole to move Earth out of its path – and then move it back when the object has passed. Environmental catastrophes and a monstrous walrus momentarily threaten the success of the ambitious project.

Trailer | Watch (Film Archive) | Watch (Amazon) | Watch bits (YouTube)

Greenland (2020). STX Entertainment. Making an Impact: Lights, Camera and Asteroid! Every asteroid and comet disaster movie ever made rolled into one.

Greenland (2020). Movie. Interstellar comet Clarke is traversing the Solar System and expected to make a close approach with Earth. When the first fragments breach the atmosphere, Florida is obliterated. The next impacts will devastate the planet and an app allocates shelter in an underground bunker in Greenland to selected people with skills that will be useful after the apocalypse. But rather than focusing on the comet impact, it’s more about saving a fragment of marriage and a bag of medication.

Trailer | Watch

Meteors strike Earth in Anna's Storm (2007) aka Hell's Rain (2007)

Hell’s Rain (2007) see Anna’s Storm (2007).

Scene looking down on Earth from film Hope (2016). In blog Making an Impact: Lights, Camera and Asteroid! a blog which is about asteroid impacts and comet impacts on Earth.

Hope (2016). Six minute film. A lone scientist believes that the Earth will be destroyed in a series of catastrophic meteoroid impacts. No-one believes him so he builds his own space station, Hope, to use as an ark to preserve hundreds of specimens of life on Earth, then watches alone from space as the fragments rain down on Earth below.


How It Ends (2021)

How It Ends (2021). Seeking to make amends for the end of the world. A comedic romp about a girl on an LA road trip of soul-searching and self-discovery in the run-up to an asteroid impact. In the end, she is by herself, or rather with herself — her younger self — but only after an end of the world party. Best bit? The boombox that didn’t say anything and the bridge in the song from the original movie.


Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)

Ice Age: Collision Course (2016). Animated movie. After surviving another ice age, Scrat the sabre-toothed squirrel is trying to bury his acorn but ends up in space after activating a flying saucer buried under the ice. Landing on an asteroid, he tries to bury his acorn but splits the rock in two, sending it towards Earth. Sheltering from a meteor storm, a herd of animals in Earth find a stone carving that depicts an impact in the same place every few millions years. Guided by Neil de Grasse Tyson documentaries, they launch magnetic crystals from a meteorite into an erupting volcano to deflect the asteroid.

Trailer | Watch

Scene showing meteorite splitting in two (hot and cold) in film Icetastrophe (2014)

Icetastrophe (2014). TV movie. A meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere and splits in two. A small hot fragment impacts in the mountains and a larger icy fragment strikes the town of Lennox where a flash freeze icetastrophe ensues. Only by bringing the two meteorites back together can the balance of nature be restored.

Watch | DVD

Scene from Impact (2008) as two astronauts dive into the fault on the Moon to map the fissure. In blog which is about asteroid impacts and comet impacts on Earth.

Impact (2008). Two part TV miniseries. While the Earth is in the path of spectacular meteor shower, a brown dwarf impacts the Moon setting off a series of extreme electromagnetic and gravitational events on Earth. Now the increased mass is pulling the Earth onto a collision course with the Moon. Two civilian scientists are sent to the Moon to eject the object.


Futureshock Comet Impact (Impact Earth) (2007).

Impact Earth (2008) see Futureshock: Comet Impact (2007).

Scene from the film Impact Earth (2015) showing computer screen and trajectory changing

Impact Earth (2015). TV movie. A student discovers an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and tells her supervisor, a disgraced former NASA asteroid tracker. But no-one else believes them, so she publishes a video warning. When the military realise the threat is real they plan to nuke the rock. Meanwhile from an underground shelter a game of space billiards ensues as she reprograms a satellite to strike a smaller meteoroid into the path of the incoming asteroid to deflect it.

Trailer (English)

Asteroid strike into a Bolivian town in Judgment Day (1999)

Judgment Day (1999). Movie. A small asteroid destroys a village in Bolivia but a second one a thousand times larger is due to arrive within days. Unfortunately, the Government scientist who designed the only weapon capable of preventing the impact has been kidnapped by a delusional cult leader. A dangerous criminal who knows his whereabouts is released from prison to assist the FBI track him down.

Trailer | DVD

Poster for the film La Fin due Monde (1931)

La Fin du Monde (1931) translated as The End of the World. Movie. A wealthy astronomer realises that Lexell’s Comet will impact Earth on its next apparition and the world will end in 114 days. Acquiring a newspaper and radio station, he announces the event to the world, causing the global economy to collapse and descend into chaos. The astronomer is accused of creating a hoax, until the comet comes into view. Although it passes safely by, the world is already devastated by the hysteria.


Scene showing thousands of missiles heading for the asteroid cluster in The Day The Sky Exploded (1958)

La Morte Viene dallo Spazio (1958) translated as Death Comes from Outer Space. See The Day the Sky Exploded (1958).

Scene showing close approach of rogue planet with Earth from film Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia (2011). Movie. Not an asteroid but a previously undetected rogue planet called Melancholia enters the Solar System from behind the Sun, making a close approach and ultimately colliding with the Earth. The film follows the strained relationship between two sisters, who shelter in a magic cave when the planet collides with Earth.

Trailer | Watch

Orange hue over the city in Meltdown: Destruction of Days (2006)

Meltdown: Days of Destruction (2006). TV movie. An asteroid fragment the size of Iceland skims the atmosphere, perturbing Earth’s orbit closer to the Sun and creating a global heat wave. The gravitational pull of the other planets could reinstate Earth’s orbit — but they’ll only know that when it rains. The asteroid drama is over in the first fifteen minutes. The remainder is about a group of individuals overcoming heat and vigilantes to get to an airfield. Then it rains.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Vena explains where the missile came from in Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Menace from Outer Space (1954)

Menace from Outer Space (1954) aka Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Bobby’s Comet (1954). TV movie (three episode story of a TV series). Professor Newton spots a comet heading for Earth, but upon closer inspection it’s a missile made of a powerful energy source of pulverised silicon that could only have come from Jupiter’s moon Fornax.


Scene from Meteor (1979) in the control room bunker under AT&T New York, in a blog which is about asteroid impacts and comet impacts on Earth.

Meteor (1979). Movie. A main belt asteroid is struck by a comet, deflecting it towards Earth. It will hit within a week. The force of impact will be ten orders of magnitude larger than the largest earthquake ever recorded. The US and Russia must first admit to owning space-based nuclear weapons, and then combine their stockpiles if there is to be any hope of preventing the catastrophe. Operations are controlled from a bunker beneath AT&T New York.


Scene from Meteor (2009) showing two meteoroids approaching Earth. In blog Making an Impact: Lights, Camera and Asteroid! a blog which is about asteroid impacts and comet impacts on Earth.

Meteor (2009). Two part TV movie. A collision in the asteroid belt with a passing comet splits asteroid 114 Kassandra in two and both are on a collision course with Earth. While the emergency Task Force plans the missile interventions, a lone astronomer on the road to the command center has to find a way to transmit the data they need, while all forms of communication are being taken out by the meteor storm.


Scene from Meteor Apocalypse (2010) showing incoming meteors over a city.

Meteor Apocalypse (2010). TV movie. A comet on a collision course with Earth is intercepted by a global nuclear intervention. But the fragments raining down on Earth contaminate the groundwater and poison the population. One man with a possible antidote is on a cross-state journey to find his family and administer the antidote.


Firing a rocket containing a chemical concoction up into the incoming asteroid.

Meteor Assault (2015) see Asteroid: Final Impact (2015).

Scene from film Meteorites (1998) picking up a rock from a crater. In blog about asteroid and comet impacts on Earth.

Meteorites! (1998). TV movie. Just as the small town of Leroy is about to hold its lucrative annual UFO Festival, it is battered by a series of massive meteorite strikes as Earth passes through some cometary debris. People believe that aliens landed in Leroy back in the 1950’s and the town’s Mayor refuses to cancel the festival, meteorites or no meteorites!


Meteor Moon (2020)

Meteor Moon (2020). An asteroid has collided with the Moon, knocking it out of orbit and onto a collision course with Earth. The debris field can be cleared using nuclear missiles, but what can pull the Moon back into orbit? A mini black hole. There’s a drone orbiting the Moon with an anti-matter drive that can be repurposed as a Mini Hadron Collider, but it stalled on the far side of the Moon. So someone has to go and reactivate it.

Trailer | Watch

Meteorite impacting through the Golden Gate Bridge in the movie Meteor Storm (2010)

Meteor Storm (2010). TV movie. Millions of years ago a dense meteorite composed of element 120 Unbinilium impacted into what is now the San Francisco bay. Now it is altering the paths of near Earth objects. The passage of a comet creates an intense meteor storm on San Francisco and perturbs the orbit of asteroid Apophis onto a collision course with Earth. A nuclear intervention succeeds.


Scene showing the silo bunker where survivors lived for 10 years after the impact in Mutant World (2014)

Mutant World (2014). Movie. A doomsday prepper discovers that an asteroid will impact Earth in a potentially apocalyptic event and there’s a nuclear reactor at the impact site. A group takes shelter in a former missile silo. Ten years later they venture outside to find that anyone who was exposed to the radiation becomes a mutant cannibal after dark. The first 7 minutes is about the impact; the rest of the movie is about mutants.


Scene from Night of the Comet (1984) showing the red haze and piles of dust in a deserted street.

Night of the Comet (1984). Comedy horror movie. A teenage girl spends the evening in the projection room at a cinema with her boyfriend while the world watches a comet that is returning after 65 million years. They emerge the next day to a red haze and find that those who were not reduced to piles of red dust are now zombies. I’ve only included this for the title.

Trailer | Watch

Meteor explosion over the city in One Punch Man The Ultimate Disciple (2015)

One-Punch Man: “The Ultimate Disciple” (2015). Anime episode [S1, Ep.7]. Superheroes Genos and Metal Knight fail to destroy a meteor on a collision course with City-Z. Superhero Saitama destroys it in one punch but it fragments and devastates the city anyway.


Pete's Meteor (1998)

Pete’s Meteor (1998). A grandmother in Dublin is struggling to take care of her orphaned grandchildren and their drug-dealer uncle Pete is no help. One night, a giant meteorite falls in their backyard. Believing it’s from their dead parents who now live on a star, the kids are upset when the authorities take it. A scientist becomes convinced its arrival is part of a cosmic plan for him to adopt them. There are incomprehensible whispers throughout.


Astronaut leaning against a rock on Venus.

Planeta Bur (1965) translated as Planet of Storms. See Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965).

View of the city with the magnetic reversal in progress in Polar Storm (2009)

Polar Storm (2009). Movie. A fragment of comet Copernicus impacts Earth and knocks it off its axis. A geomagnetic reversal follows, but when the magnetic field declines to zero the solar wind will strip away Earth’s atmosphere. A quarter of a million people perish in the impact and now all life on Earth is threatened by the reversal. With two days to go, only one scientist knows how to realign the poles using some strategically placed nuclear weapons.

Trailer | Watch

View from space showing the microwave beam power station satellite over Earth in Post Impact (2004)

Post Impact (2004). Movie. The Earth is in the aftermath of a massive comet impact. Most of the northern hemisphere has been plunged into an ice age as a result of the atmospheric dust. An experimental microwave-beam power station satellite, secretly designed as a lethal weapon, is the key to Earth’s future. But whoever gains control of the satellite gains control of the planet.

Trailer | Watch

Scene showing the atmosphere chain between the two gypsy moons in the film Crash of the Moons (1954)

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Crash of Moons (1954). See Crash of the Moons (1954).

Vena explains where the missile came from in Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Menace from Outer Space (1954)

Rocky Jones, Space Ranger: Bobby’s Comet (1954). See Menace from Outer Space (1954).

Darius and the team studying the EM drive on screen in the design room in Salvation (2017)

Salvation (2017–18). TV series. An MIT student discovers an asteroid will impact Earth in six months’ time causing an extinction level event. He approaches a power-hungry tech giant scientist who tries to save the world with money he doesn’t quite have, radioactive material he can’t legally get and technology that doesn’t quite exist. This story throws everything you can think of about asteroid mitigation at you. And, yes, there’s a fated reporter on the trail.

Trailer S1 | Watch S1 & S2

Comparing a vinyl record to the Solar System in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012). Romcom movie. Asteroid Mathilde will impact the Earth in three weeks’ time. Two characters embark on a roadtrip, one to find his high school sweetheart and the other to return to her family in England. But they end up where they started, with each other, when the impact happens. And the screen goes white.

Trailer | Watch

Weapon to destroy asteroid shown in blue from Sliders Last Days (1995)

Sliders: “Last Days” (1995). TV series episode [S1, Ep 3]. The sliders team arrive on an alternate Earth two days before a predicted asteroid impact and three days before their next slide. Nuclear weapons have never been invented so they have to get to work inventing the atom bomb to deflect the asteroid before it’s too late.


Asteroid having passed through Earth using the hyper drive in Stargate SG-1 - Fail Safe (2002)

Stargate SG-1: “Fail Safe” (2002). TV Series episode [S5, Ep 17]. A Goa’uld diverts an asteroid onto a collision course with Earth. The Stargate team is dispatched to prevent the catastrophe. Preparing to launch a missile to destroy the asteroid, they detect a high concentration of the rare, super-dense mineral Naquadah inside. They use the hyperdrive to jump the asteroid past Earth.


Scene showing the devastation of Buenos Aires after the arachnid asteroid attack in Starship Troopers (1997)

Starship Troopers (1997). Film inspired by the 1959 novel by Robert A. Heinlein, although not much like it. The war with alien arachnids is instigated when they launch an asteroid at Earth, wiping out Buenos Aires and killing in excess of 9 million people. Shortly afterwards, a system of defence is constructed in space to prevent any further asteroids reaching Earth.


Police stand next to a large crater in the middle of the road in Stonados (2013)

Stonado (2013). Movie. So it’s not about asteroids, comets or even meteorites, but huge boulders being ripped up from the sea floor by a series of massive tornados and then launched back to impact the Earth. Boston is the target for the destruction. The solution is to heat up the atmosphere with a high altitude explosion using one of the tornados as an elevator for the bomb.


Space walk scene from film The Cusp (1996)

The Cusp (1996). A movie about asteroid mining and environmental extremists set in the not too distant future. An asteroid that is being nudged by a spacecraft into a lunar Trojan orbit is coming in too fast for Earth capture. The one remaining crew member has to skim it off the top of Earth’s atmosphere and back out into space before it’s too late.


Fireball meteor over a lighthouse in The Day of the Triffids (1961)

The Day of the Triffids (1962, 1981, 2008). Movie and two TV Series. Not an impact movie, but there is a meteor shower and being a classic I’ve included it. A spectacular meteor event blinds everyone who sees it and disperses spores around the globe that grow into carnivorous triffid plants. In the early version, salt water destroys the triffids; in the later version, it’s genetic engineering.

Watch (1962) | Watch (1981) | Watch (2008)

Scene showing thousands of missiles heading for the asteroid cluster in The Day The Sky Exploded (1958)

The Day the Sky Exploded (1958) aka La Morte Viene dallo Spazio (1958) translated as Death Comes from Outer Space. Italy’s first sci-fi movie (English dubbed). When the engine of a manned mission to the Moon malfunctions, it explodes in a region of near-Earth asteroids. Thousands of asteroids form a giant cluster which is now heading straight for Earth. The world’s entire stockpile of nuclear missiles is launched to destroy the cluster.


Scene showing meteors impacting the town in The End of the World (1916)

The End of the World (1916) aka The Flaming Sword (1916). Silent movie. A new comet is discovered that will enter Earth’s atmosphere and cause destruction and economic disaster in north west Europe. Danish movie made in the aftermath of the panic that preceded the 1910 apparition of Halley’s Comet made worse by the sudden appearance of The Great Daylight Comet of 1910 which stole Halley’s thunder.

Watch (Danish Film Institute) | Watch (Amazon)

Poster for the film La Fin due Monde (1931)

The End of the World (1931). See La Fin du Monde (1931).

Asteroid Strike NW of Philadelphia, 41 24 15 N, 75 41 03 W

The Expanse (2015-2021). TV series [see S2 Ep 4-5; S4 Ep 10; S5]. Set in the 23rd century when much of the Solar System has been colonised, the inner planets are consuming resources from the asteroid belt, where water is more precious than the minerals the Belters mine. The three largest powers controlling Earth, Mars and outer planets coexist on the brink of war. In S2, Earth is saved from a weaponised Eros which is redirected to impact Venus. When a rogue Belter enters the scene in S4, a series of asteroids are launched at Earth impacting on the coast of Senegal and in Bay of Bengal and somewhere northwest of Philadelphia. See also astro-mining in the movies.


The long period planet of pure evil threatening the pale blue dot of Earth

The Fifth Element (1997). Every 5,000 years, a massive sentient fireball of the most ominous intelligence imaginable reappears intent on destroying all life on Earth. Because evil begets evil, engaging the menace in warfare only makes it stronger. The sole weapon capable of defeating it is the alignment of four sacred stones activated by the four classical elements — earth, water, fire and air — and a fifth supreme element. In 2263, while an alien diva conceals the stones, the fifth element is attacked on its way to protect Earth. An ex-special forces officer turned taxi driver is tasked with reuniting them to save the world.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Astronaut on asteroid inspecting green slime on equipment in The Green Slime (1968)

The Green Slime (1968) aka Ganmā Daisan Gō: Uchū Daisakusen (1968) translated as Gamma 3: Great Space War. Movie (original Japanese and adapted/edited US versions). A team of scientists are dispatched from an orbiting space station to plant a bomb on the surface of an asteroid that is on course to impact the Earth. They find it inhabited by a green slime, some of which is inadvertently brought back to the space station and evolves into a host of one-eyed tentacled aliens.


The Last Train aka Cruel Earth (1999)

The Last Train (1999) aka Cruel Earth (1999). TV miniseries about a group of passengers on a train to Sheffield who are accidentally frozen by the contents of a canister which is released by the shockwave from an asteroid the size of Birmingham impacting in Zambia 6,000 miles away. They thaw out 52 years later in a lawless jungle inhabited by violent gangs and feral dogs. A government agent who was on the train leads them to a secret bunker in Scotland where a cryogenic project was set up to save the human race. It turns out the people they are running from are the people they have been looking for.


Fighter jet pilot in cockpit with bright missile in the distance in The Lost Missile (1958)

The Lost Missile (1958). Movie. An unidentified missile-like object from space is heading towards Earth. A foiled attempt to blow it up sets it on course to destroy New York and Ottawa. Ottawa is destroyed. A revolutionary rocket is launched just in time and the missile is destroyed, saving New York.


Scene showing the rock monoliths being destroyed in saltwater in The Monolith Monsters (1957)

The Monolith Monsters (1957). Movie. A large meteorite impacts and breaks up in the Southern Californian desert. When exposed to water, the fragments grow into massive stone monoliths that petrify (literally) the inhabitants of a nearby town. A geologist realises that salt water destroys the monoliths. To generate enough of it, he blows up the local dam and floods the nearby salt flats.


Scene showing news anchor Brooks Alvarez in front of countdown screen in The Onion News Network Asteroid Heads To Earth (2011)

The Onion News Network: “Asteroid Heads to Earth” (2011). TV news comedy episode [S2, Ep 1]. The news on 5 October 2011 is that all life on Earth will come to an end when a massive asteroid strikes in less than half an hour. There is live coverage right up to the moment the news studio is struck by the asteroid.


Scene showing K67 exploding over a house in The Sarah Jane Adventures Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane (2007)

The Sarah Jane Adventures: “Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?” (2007). Two part episode [S1, Ep 7–8] of a children’s TV show. Meteoroid K67 is on a collision course with Earth but no-one knows because it is coming through a radar blind spot. When in range, Sarah Jane will use her alien computer, Mr Smith, to create a magnetic pulse and deflect it back into space. But only after other time-travel adventures take place across the decades in between.


Scene showing man looking out of window at beach as firestorm arrives in These Final Hours (2013)

These Final Hours (2013). Movie. Ten minutes after an asteroid has struck in the North Atlantic Ocean, a global firestorm is gradually ravaging the Earth. There are 12 hours until it reaches Western Australia. In Perth, one man attempts to use his final hours to help a child find her father. At the end, with no escape, the only choice is to watch from the beach as the firestorm arrives.

Trailer | Watch

Scene showing Bart next to a telescope from the TV episode The SImpsons Bart's Comet (1995)

The Simpsons: “Bart’s Comet” (1995). Animated TV series episode [S6, Ep 14]. While in detention with Principal Skinner, Bart discovers a comet heading for Earth and straight for Springfield. A misguided rocket invention destroys the only bridge out of town and as the residents of Springfield sing Que Será Será, the comet breaks up in the atmosphere and Bart bags a meteorite. The episode first aired on 5 February 1995, influenced by the events surrounding Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 that broke apart under the gravitational influence of Jupiter, colliding with it in July 1994.

Watch | Watch US

Explaining the size of an asteroid by comparing to the size of Texas on a map

The Size of Texas (2011). Comedy short about a group of scientists advising the Department of Defense and POTUS about an asteroid that will impact Earth in 15 hours. Their best size estimate is 98.6 billion— It’s the size of Texas. Or is it two, give or take a city, or at least a Texas and a Paris (Texas) maybe? The Director needs to know how many Texases before considering mass evacuation. But the size depends on the decade used to define the size of Texas. The smartest man on the planet says thousands of Texases, but his genius in Einsteins is debated. The Independence Day scientist says it’s the size of Earth and will knock us into the Sun like a cue ball, but he is supposedly mad. A nuclear warhead the size of ten thousand Apollo Theaters is launched to break it into a million pieces — but it’s too late.


Scene showing massive comet and debris field approaching Earth from space in the documentary The Super Comet (2007)

The Super Comet (2007). Two-part dramatised documentary which is utterly brilliant and deeply impactful (pun intended). A hypothesised future history of planet Earth after a comet strikes in the Yucatán Peninsula today, near to where an impact 65 million years ago caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Discussed by renowned expert scientists with dramatized scenes following different groups of survivors in different parts of the world in the aftermath of the impact.

Trailer | Part 1 | Part 2

Scene showing POTUS looking solemnly at document in The West Wing Impact Winder (2004)

The West Wing: “Impact Winter” (2004). TV series episode [S6, Ep 9]. The White House staff prepare for the possible impact of a 400m wide asteroid that could hit the northern hemisphere in 46 hours. POTUS weighs up the impact scenarios: obliterating a city would be better than an impact in the Pacific Ocean for damage containment. The asteroid misses Earth by 73,000 miles.


Scene showing asteroid exploding in the film Tik Tik Tik (2018)

Tik Tik Tik (2018). Movie. An Indian Shuttle crew is sent with an onboard missile to destroy an asteroid which is on course to impact the Earth. They are kidnapped by the captain of a Chinese space station who attempts to steal the missile and use it to destroy India and get lucrative rebuilding contracts. One of the Shuttle crew is a trained magician and escape artist who manages to free the crew and launch the missile at the asteroid to prevent the catastrophe.

Trailer | Title Track Video

Scene showing massive incoming meteor over desert mountains in film Total Eclipse (2008)

Total Eclipse (2008) aka Fall of Hyperion (2008). Movie. As hundreds of small meteoroids bombard the Earth, an orbiting space station is knocked onto a collision course with Earth. With a thermonuclear reactor on board, if blown up before impact, it will shower the Earth with radioactive material; if it impacts, much of California will be uninhabitable for a thousand years. Now it seems the fate of the space station has been part of a clandestine plan to get a vetoed Missile Defense Renewal Act reinstated.


Tres Dias aka Before The Fall (2008)

Tres Días (2008) aka Before the Fall (2008). Movie. An asteroid will impact Earth in 72 hours in a catastrophic collision that no-one is expected to survive. In its final hours, the world is gripped by chaos and mass panic. A serial killer escapes from prison and holds a family hostage, making their final hours even more unbearable. It’s violent and destructive even before the impact, so maybe do what the asteroid won’t and give this one a miss.

Trailer | DVD

Scene showing incoming meteors in NY in Tycus (1998)

Tycus (1998). Movie. A reporter learns of a secret nuclear missile bunker in the Sierra mountains and goes to investigate. He learns that a comet a third the size of the Moon is on course to impact the Moon which will in turn affect all life on Earth. A multi-millionaire is planning a mitigation attempt from an underground bunker and offering shelter to a select few should the comet deflection attempt fail, which it does. Every major city in the world is struck by incoming boulders. Expect tidal waves, earthquakes, fires and floods.

Trailer | Watch

Scene showing ground based laser weapon at full power in film Deadly Skies aka Force of Impact (2006)

Ultimate Limit (2006) aka Force of Impact (2006). See Deadly Skies (2006).

Scene in the outback with man looking up at incoming meteor from Undead (2003)

Undead (2003). Movie. An influx of meteorite strikes turn the inhabitants of the small Australian town of Berkeley into zombies. Then aliens start abducting other residents. Acid rain falls from the sky which turns out to be the antidote for the zombie infection. It seems the aliens only arrived to keep the infection delivered in the meteorites from spreading.

Trailer | DVD

Scene inside spaceship to three pensive astronauts in film Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965) aka Planeta Bur (1965) aka Planet of Storms (1965)

Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965) aka Planeta Bur (1965) translated as Planet of Storms. English edited version of Russian movie. It’s 2020 and the Moon has been colonized. Three spaceships head for Venus but one gets destroyed by an asteroid on the way, so it’s not about an impact on Earth. It’s only included because it confuses “asteroid” and “meteorite” — and for this musing: ”There is no fair or unfair — to a meteorite you get hit, you die.” To an asteroid this is probably true but to a meteorite? Did the Nakhla dog really die? The asteroid strike is 3 minutes in, the rest is escaping creatures on Venus.


Warning from Space (1956) aka Uchūjin Tokyo ni arawaru (1956) translated as Spacemen Appear in Tokyo. The rogue Planet R is on course to collide with Earth. A technologically advanced race of starfish-like beings from planet Paira, which co-orbits with Earth on the other side of the Sun, visits Japan to warn the Earth and join forces to stop the destruction of their respective planets.


Scene showing the Ark taking off from Earth on a rail launch in the film When Worlds Collide (1951)

When Worlds Collide (1951). Movie not about an asteroid or comet, but a rogue star, Bellus and its planetary companion, Zira. With Bellus on a direct collision course with Earth, a lottery is held to decide which personnel working on building a space ark will be allotted seats to go and start a new colony on the safety of planet Zira. Told largely from the viewpoint of those working on the ark. This is the movie that inspired Deep Impact (1998).


Scene showing news anchor and image of asteroid in movie Without Warning (1994)

Without Warning (1994). Mockumentary movie delivered as a news network report. Three spatially synchronized asteroid impacts into uninhabited regions on Earth turn out to be a form of extraterrestrial contact based on symbols sent out on the Pioneer 11 spacecraft. When Earth launches a nuclear retaliation, it comes under siege by hundreds more impacts on major cities around the globe. Segments of the alien message are delivered by survivors of two of the impact sites, citing what seems to be part of the recorded message sent out on the Voyager spacecraft.


Scene showing three wizards in dalmation spacesuits in TV episode Wizards of Waverly Place Wizards vs Asteroid (2011)

Wizards of Waverly Place: “Wizards vs Asteroid” (2011). TV series episode [S4, Ep 17]. When the Russo family of wizards, who live above a sandwich shop in Greenwich Village, hear about the failed attempt to destroy a giant asteroid hurtling towards Earth, they change their minds about taking a portal to shelter in the wizard world and instead go into space to reactivate the missile that failed to detonate.


Scene showing Rob Lowe and others in You, Me and the Apocalypse (2015)

You, Me and the Apocalypse (2015). TV oddball comedy series. An attempt to deflect a comet out of its collisional trajectory with Earth fails and it will impact in 34 days. This 10 episode series counts down the event, following the lives of a diverse group of unconnected individuals around the world who all end up sheltering in a bunker under the UK town of Slough as they watch the end of the world unfold on TV.


Your Name (2016) aka Kimi no Na wa (2016) translated as Your Name Is? Two lives are intertwined in space and time, linked to a comet, some kuchikamisake and the meaning of kawatare-doki. A girl in Itomori and a boy in Tokyo three years in her future swap lives, communicating via notes saved on each other’s smartphone. But on the day in her timeline when a comet makes its close approach, he never hears from her again. He tracks down her village, only to find a succession of impact craters formed by fragments of the comet splitting off on its return every 1,200 years.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Apocalypse Tomorrow aka Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse (2014)

Zodiac: Signs of the Apocalypse (2014) aka Zodiac: Signs of Destruction aka Apocalypse Tomorrow. When an ancient astrological rock carving is uncovered in a Peruvian mine, a wave of unprecedented natural disasters are set in motion around the globe. Depicting twelve events associated with the signs of the zodiac, the final event marks the return of a long-period planet which will destroy Earth. A scientist overcomes floods, fireballs, volcanic fury and Feds to reunite the carving with a radioactive stone that activates an energy field and shields the world from destruction.

Trailer | Watch UK | Watch US

Lights, Camera and Asteroid! That’s a wrap.

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TL;DR: Read the short version.

Or read Astro-Mining in the Movies.

Don’t forget, it’s always Asteroid Day on 30 June.

Hope's Comet Pills advertisement from 1910.

Fair Use and Fair Dealing. All images shown in this article were selected to support the commentary. I believe this constitutes fair use or fair dealing of any such copyrighted material, but suffice to say if any copyright holder should wish an image to be removed, please make contact via email and the image will be removed without hesitation.

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