Saturday, March 12, 2016

Moby Dick, Please Call Home

A whale of an asteroid has gone missing. 

Its official name is 2000 EM26, but because of it size, the scientists in charge of looking for it, call it "Moby Dick.

And it was supposed to be "home" by no later than...February 18th........ ( Home in Asteroid speak is  about 3 million miles from Earth.)
We've been waiting since Moby was first "discovered" 14 years ago.


But, not to worry...according to a magazine I read in the Dentists Office last week....

"Sometimes asteroids are simply too dark in colour to see easily, making them difficult to find again with visible-light telescopes like Slooh. This might explain how a big asteroid like Moby Dick can remain elusive even as it makes its closest approach to Earth.”One possibility here is that the asteroid is right where we think it is. It might just be really faint,” says Amy Mainzer of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Although telescopes that look at other wavelengths of light might be able to see it, they haven’t looked yet.
Despite such difficulties tracking even relatively close space rocks, some astronomers argue that we are well enough prepared for the threat of meteorites, considering the low probability of a serious impact. Exact figures for the likelihood are hard to come by, but meteors 20 metres or so in diameter – the size of the one that hit in Chelyabinsk, Russia almost exactly a year ago– hit the planet only once or twice a century, and most fall over the ocean or unpopulated areas. Larger ones are even less likely to hit."



Scientists say they did not detect the asteroid that hit Russia last year, because it came out of the daytime sky. These are nearly impossible to find ahead of time because telescopes can only spot asteroids during the night. 

Well, that's certainly reassuring.

Frankly, I'm going to take precautionary a sign in my yard declaring it an "Asteroid Free Zone."