Newgate News

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

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Landlord, fill the flowing bowl...

...until it runneth over.

Yes, folks, it's another asteroid flyby tonight. This time, we'll be raising our brimming tankards to Apophis and lifting our tricorns in salute as it whizzes by 9 million miles away.

Even the most excitable of journalists can't work up much of a frenzy about that kind of distance, so there have been many column inches devoted instead to speculation about the closer approaches due in 2029 and 2036, some accompanied by gratifyingly lurid artists' impressions of the 275-m wide rock flaming into the Earth's atmosphere.

Though its picture is a relatively restrained telescope shot of the asteroid, the Evening Standard is leading the field for sensational headlines so far with
'Apophis, an Asteroid the size of a city block could hit Earth... but not until 2036'.
and, in case you missed the implications:
A 900 foot-wide asteroid - that could wipe out London - will make the latest in a series of close approaches to the Earth tomorrow.
This sweetly parochial view is supported by the assertion that the chances of a collision in 2036 are 'non-negligible', which sounds unfortunately like a low-calorie version of US references to a 'non-zero impact probability situation'.

Meanwhile, for those who enjoy the rather less overblown experience of real-live observation, SLOOH will be hosting live coverage starting at midnight tonight, when boffins from around the world will be looking for data to help calculate Apophis' future trajectory.

Here in the tavern, we're inclined to take a more relaxed view of things and simply drink a toast to disaster averted once more.

So, ladies and gentlemen,  please raise your glasses to the return of Apophis - and Confusion to the Puritans!

For tonight we'll merry, merry be
For tonight we'll merry, merry be
For tonight we'll merry, merry be
Tomorrow we'll be sober.



2 comments:

Demetrius said...

This should be around the time that the HST2 should be finished. Perhaps it could be fast tracked to Birmingham.

James Higham said...

'Apophis, an Asteroid the size of a city block could hit Earth... but not until 2036'.

Damn, shall most likely miss it. Wouldn't be a bad way to go out actually.