Just a few decades ago, most scientists thought the idea of asteroids crashing to Earth to be ludicrous. Today, this same idea is an accepted fact. Not only do asteroids fall to Earth, but more ad more are being discovered every day. Today, one of these newly-discovered asteroids will miss Earth by a whisker on the scale of the cosmos.
According to orbital calculations, the asteroid, discovered only 3 days ago, will pass about 30,000 miles from Earth. In comparison, that’s only about an eighth of the way to the Moon.
Now for the good news: the asteroid is only about 15 to 30 feet across and even if it were to hit the Earth, it may not even be large enough to survive the descent through the atmosphere, burning up in a spectacular fireball instead. Still, though, the fact that an asteroid can sneak up on us out of space with only a few days notice is the troubling part of this whole situation.
It is a perfectly logical idea that an asteroid could, one day, destroy life as we know it on Earth. The good news is that scientists are busy developing plans to avert doomsday. The problem is this: in these doomsday prevention plans, the time frame for a response is typically, at the least, months, not days. With only a couple of days notice and with current technology, it would probably be impossible to do anything to save the planet and our civilization.
This fact alone validates the idea that it is perfectly reasonable to spend time and money looking for asteroids and comets that have the potential to strike our planet and threaten the human race.
Back to the new asteroid, now christened 2010TD54. Because of its extreme small size, it is unlikely that it could be spotted except with very large telescopes of at least 18 inches in aperture, and that is under dark skies. The asteroid is expected to shine at a dimmer than Pluto 16th magnitude. For anyone who wants to try and see it, the orbital data is here. As for the Cleveland weather forecast, it’s looking good. Should you head out, I would recommend spending more time looking at the normal cosmic sights rather than asteroid hunting. Still, the asteroid will be traveling through Pisces and Aquarius tonight, which will be up in the South-Southwest.
Clear skies and good luck spotting the asteroid, you’ll need it!
For more astro news:
Cleveland weather for October
October featured constellation: Cassiopeia
October featured constellation: Comet Hartley
Local astronomy events for October
The Draconid Meteor Shower
Draconids 2010 disappoint, 2011 could be dangerous
Featured sight for week of 10/10: dawn of the Hunter
Amateur astronomers track down controversial spy satellite
Rocket scientists may soon join the ranks of the unemployed
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