Regular readers may have been surprised at the recent silence here on the subject of 2012 DA14, not all of which has been due to such half-term obligations as taking a nephew to the zoo.
To be honest, I've been in a bit of a sulk. I feel rather like a die-hard fan of an obscure indie band which, after years in the musical wilderness, has an unexpected number one hit.
Suddenly asteroid is the mot du jour and everyone's an expert - well, nearly everyone (my thanks to Nourishing Obscurity for that one).
On all sides, the media are eagerly imparting details of tonight's close approach, along with, at the more irresponsible end of the coverage - and in spite of the repeated assurances of experts - lurid speculation about the damage that an impact might cause.
And then, to top it all, the cosmos sends us a timely reminder of our fragility in the form of the Russian meteorite, supplying the sort of spectacular footage that will be distinctly lacking from tonight's flyby - though I can't be the only one who found, in the news footage of witnesses whose bandaged eyes were injured by shattering windows as they watched the display, a chilling reminder of 'The Day of the Triffids'.
The Russian strike is a reminder, along with the passing asteroid's chronological designation, that we are always vulnerable to a bolt from the blue; Newtonian mechanics and supercomputers may enable us to calculate trajectories with remarkable precision but that's no good if we haven't yet spotted the celestial body barreling towards us on a collision course.
Still, eat, drink and be merry is the best philosophy; as ever, we at the Tavern will be roistering tonight in honour of 2012 DA14 even if it's not such an exclusive celebration as usual, so please pour yourselves a drink and join us in spirit.
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