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

Monday, 2 March 2015

"Live long and prosper!"

I wonder if Leonard Nimoy ever thought, when he adapted a traditional Orthodox Jewish prayer gesture for his new television role, that thousands of small fingers would be painstakingly coaxed into the same position every school breaktime for years afterwards.

I can't be the only one who, on learning of his recent death, responded with an automatic Vulcan salute, half-surprised that the muscle memory persists to this day.

Gene Roddenberry's vision may look dated now but, growing up in a place where a 'foreigner' was a Southerner from over the English border, a crew of humans of all nationalities united in space exploration was a novel and thought-provoking concept (though we all knew, of course, that Scotty had to be the real hero, whatever Kirk and Spock got up to); add in a character from a distant planet and we were all completely hooked.

The early 1970s were heady times for space-mad nerdlets; real-life moon rockets vied for attention with the fictional exploits of intergalactic travellers and the crew of the errant moon base in the optimistically named  'Space 1999' (a series which, to my delighted surprise, still had a devoted following in Austria in 1982, when British television had moved on to 'Boys From the Blackstuff' and invented Channel 4).

With such a background - not to mention the early influence of the lids protecting the Clangers' underground homes from meteorite impacts and space debris - it's hardly surprising that this blog has retained an interest in extra-terrestrial matters and asteroids in particular.

Today, therefore, we have double cause for celebration in 2015 DO215 and 2015 DS23, two 50-odd metre wide space rocks passing by today at around 1.2 million km. Rather bigger than the Chelyabinsk meteor, they are, as their designations show, relatively recent discoveries, a reminder that NASA's impressive detection equipment is doing well - and that there are plenty of as yet undetected bodies out there.

And tonight, we are not only raising our usual glass in the Tavern to mark the event but also drinking a toast to Leonard Nimoy and to the unforgettable original Mr Spock.


  1. I'm looking forward to pictures of Pluto from New Horizons. For almost my whole life an aura of mystery has surrounded Pluto. Soon we'll know a little more.

  2. Any chance one of these could take a sudden detour to earth?