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, 6 May 2014

A date for asteroid-spotters

Since every fly-by is an excuse to raise a brimming tankard or two here in the Tavern, we have been merrily celebrating the passage of 25-metre-wide 2014 HL129 a mere 300,000km away on Saturday.

What's more, today brings us the newly-discovered HX164 (~12m, 430,000km away) and HB177 (~7.5m, 500,000km), both very small fry and sadly too late for a bacchanalian end to the weekend but no less significant for that.

The new detection systems have dramatically increased the number of known Near Earth Objects (and the Tavern drinks bill) and given much ammunition, so to speak, to the organisations devoting their energies to developing strategies to deal with the risk of potential impacts.

Following last month's conference sponsored by the B612 Foundation, this week sees the first 'Stardust Global Virtual Workshop (SGVW-1) on Asteroids and Space Debris', based rather closer to home in Glasgow.

This is happening under the aegis of Dr Massimiliano Vasile - remember him? Brain the size of a planet but not the snappiest of orators? - whose international research project is holding an 'open forum to collect the latest advancements in asteroid and space debris science and technology'.

The first of the event's two public lectures - 'Avoiding the Fate of the Dinosaurs' - can be seen tonight at 7pm on Youtube (follow the link) and the second - 'Looking Towards the Galactic Frontier' - at the same time on Thursday.

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