Friday, November 4, 2011

Armageddon A Little Concerned

As if we aren't under enough stress with the global economic crisis, cyber-security issues, war, famine and disease, scientists are keeping a close eye on an aircraft carrier size rocks that will pass the earth in the near future. One of them is dropping in this coming week.

YU55, as it is affectionately known, will pass earth on Wednesday November 8 about 325,000KM or just over 200,000 miles away. That sounds pretty far but in the vastness of space it's a pretty close shave. Interesting to note the moon is almost 40,000 miles further away. This rock is going to pass inside the moon's orbit. Of course it is way smaller than the moon and so it cannot be seen with the naked eye.

It has been around here before and will happen by again. It passed us back in 1976 when apparently no one noticed and will be swinging by again in 2028. Those of us still alive and able to afford a telescope can watch it fly by again.

But the really bad news comes from some Russian scientists who have moved the date for Armageddon from 2012 to 2036. Nothing to do with the Mayans this time. Its a rather large rock called Apophis which they predict may hit the earth on April 13 of that year.

It is certain Apophis will swing by on Friday April 13, 2029 and if it gets hooked by the earth's gravity its path will be altered and it will then be on a collision course with earth. Other experts put the chances of this happening at only 2% to 3% while others have run simulations to quantify the magnitude of the impact and its effect on the planet.

If you are tired of watching your fortunes diminish as the Dow sinks or your favorite city park destroyed as the Occupy Wall Street movement turns violent, perhaps you can be distracted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory site where you can watch videos and subscribe to news feeds about more heavenly objects hurling themselves at our little planet. By the way, if you think the IT profession is acronym laden just listen to the first 30 seconds of the video.

In 2013 the wizards at JPL will be able to determines if Apophis will pass through the so-called keyhole, altering its path and putting us in real jeopardy of a collision in April of 2036. In yet another example of science fiction becoming science fact, they are prepared to mount an effort to somehow deflect it. Just like in the movie, we will have a limited window of opportunity to intercept it and change the outcome.

If this effort fails, like in the movie, I predict a lot of people will file their tax returns late that year.

Captain Joe

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