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 30 September 2013

Whew - that was close!

Another day, another asteroid.

Russian observers claim to have spotted a 15m wide object that passed the Earth on Friday night at a mere 11,300km from the planet's surface.

Their findings are still awaiting confirmation, but if they are right, this one came out of the blue without warning and passed by an astronomical whisker away, inside the orbit of geostationary satellites - in fact, it was at first believed to be a stray piece of orbital debris.

Meanwhile, the same night, at even closer quarters, a meteroid was filmed burning up in the atmosphere across fourteen states of the USA. Fireballs are a reasonably frequent occurrence, but this seems to have been a particularly spectacular example.

It's likely this will be put down to random coincidence, in much the same way as February's Russian fireball was deemed to have no connection with 2012 DA14 which passed by the same day,

Nevertheless, though the  risk tables of NASA's Near Earth Object Program currently list only one asteroid in the category 'merits careful monitoring' and that won't be along for another 35 years,  it's food for thought and a reminder that, amid the vast emptiness of space, there is bound to be a rock out there with our name on it - or even two.

Still, a passing space rock is always an excuse for a drink; to brighten a Monday evening, I invite you to raise a glass in salute to the as-yet-unnamed asteroid and the eagle-eyed Russian astronomers.

Na Zdorovie!


  1. Bloomin eck - a whiska away it were.

    [Hey, got in before Julia this time. :) ]

  2. There was once a top pop song "Catch a falling star...." it must be on Youtube somewhere.

  3. You did indeed, JH, but you were never exactly going to be trampled in the rush...

    Demetrius, for some bizarre reason it's also lodged in my memory, along with a thousand or so other tunes I wish I could forget.


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