Friday, 8 February 2013

ARE WE ALL GONNA DIE NEXT WEEK?

It seems that an asteroid about 150 feet across is hurtling through space as you are reading this at about 26,000 miles an hour and it is heading right for us. Yes..US. You and me. Earth. Earth? How many Earths do you know? Yeah, this Earth!

It will reach us on or about February 15th and will pass in between the Earth and the Moon. It will do a fly-by at a height of about 17,000 miles above the Earth's surface, which is lower than some satellites. Most satellites are at 35,000 miles, so this is pretty close.

But then again, this 17,000 miles is what the scientists have calculated. They could be wrong. For all we know it could be 170,000 miles or 17 miles! Who knows, right? Scientists will only be able to pinpoint where the thing will go once it is a few million miles away from us. But at that point it would too close to take action. It could also hit one of our satellites and veer off into California. Or the Earth's massive gravitational pull could just suck it into Washington anyway. Maybe we should just give Bruce Willis a call..just in case.

At 26,000 miles per hour, hitting the Earth would unleash the equivalent of a thermonuclear bomb. No, I don't want to create a worldwide panic but it's just you never know. But don't go out and empty the shelves at Wal-Mart or Tesco. What's the point if the thing lands on your town anyway?

Ok, before we start running out of our homes screaming like Freddy Kruger is on the sofa, what is this rock anyway? According to Wikipedia:
2012 DA14 is a near-Earth asteroid with an estimated diameter of about 45 meters (148 ft) and an estimated mass of about 130,000 metric tons. It was discovered on February 23, 2012, by the OAM Observatory, La Sagra in Spain (J75) seven days after passing 0.0174 AU (2,600,000 km; 1,620,000 mi) from Earth on February 16 2012. Calculations show that on February 15, 2013, the distance between the asteroid and Earth will be 0.000228 AU (34,100 km; 21,200 mi). The 2013 passage of 2012 DA14 by Earth is a record close approach for a known object of this size.
On January 9, 2013, the asteroid was recovered by Las Campanas Observatory and the observation arc increased from 79 days to 321 days. It is now known that on February 15, 2013 at 19:25 Universal Time the asteroid will pass at a distance of 0.000228 AU (34,100 km; 21,200 mi) from the center-point of Earth, with an uncertainty region of about 0.000001 AU (150 km; 93 mi). The asteroid will pass closer than satellites in geosynchronous orbit. The asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye, but will briefly peak at roughly apparent magnitude 7.4. The best viewing location for the closest approach will be Indonesia. Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia are also well situated to see the asteroid around its closest approach.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN IT DOES PASS BY?

The short answer is … nothing. On the day it passes, most of us won’t see it or be aware of its passage, in any way. The asteroid won’t alter the tides. It won’t cause volcanoes. It’ll just sweep closely past us – as millions of asteroids have done throughout Earth’s four-and-a-half-billion-year history – some in your own lifetime. Below is the trajectory of the asteroid, just to be sure.

Courtesy of good old NASA

The asteroid will be within range for small telescopes and solidly mounted binoculars, used by experienced observers who have access to appropriate star charts. Here’s what NASA says about its visibility:
On [February 15, 2013], the asteroid will travel rapidly from the southern evening sky into the northern morning sky with its closest Earth approach occurring about 19:26 UTC when it will achieve a magnitude of less than seven, which is somewhat fainter than naked eye visibility. About 4 minutes after its Earth close approach, there is a good chance it will pass into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes or so before reappearing from the eclipse. When traveling rapidly into the northern morning sky, 2012 DA14 will quickly fade in brightness.
Phew! See, we have nothing to worry about then. You guys....Tell you what. Why don't you download my book and read about the size of the Universe and its wonders. That should take your mind of this thing. You can click on the image below to hyperjump there.

Again, as usual if you feel that this post is funny, entertaining or informative, please do share with your network. Hopefully more people will be well informed and entertained.

What? Is this a cheap blog post to sell my book? Hell yeah! I wrote the damn book, am I supposed to keep it or give it away for free? Yeah giving it away for free sounds like the right thing to do but I gotta eat. I'll probably write another book one day and give that away for free but for now, you can download the free sample chapters.



To get a free 40 page sample of all the chapters, click on the image below.


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