A rogues' gallery of mountebanks, charlatans and scoundrels
Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay
Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Typical! You wait ages for a near-earth asteroid, then three of them come along at once.
Following NASA’s announcement three weeks ago of the near miss by two asteroids in quick succession, the Daily Mail today trumpets the discovery of another PHO – that’s Potentially Hazardous Object to you and me – by the PS1 telescope from thePan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System).
Don't start battening down the hatches, though - we aren't set to go the way of the dinosaurs just yet. The catchily-named 2010 ST3 may be a hefty 150 metres in diameter but the closest it will get is about four million miles from Earth in mid-October.
The astronomers involved in the project are patting themselves on the back, however, since Pan-STARRS represents a huge development in our ability to spot asteroids on a possible collision course with Earth.
According to the Director of the Minor Planet Centre, 'It is proof that the PS1 telescope is capable of finding potentially dangerous objects that no one else has found.'
Funnily enough, you could say much the same thing about the Daily Mail.
Macheath, the notorious highwayman, has retired from a life of crime and can now be found behind the bar of Peachum's Tavern, favourite haunt of the rakes, rogues and vagabonds of 18th century Newgate and setting of 'The Beggars' Opera'. Visitors are always welcome; help yourself to a virtual tankard of ale and read on...