Wednesday, January 16, 2008

See You in 2 Weeks?

My brother sent me this news:

Asteroid TU24 is approaching very close to the Earth on 1/29/2008. According to NASA, the MOID (closest possible distance from the Earth) is 0.00124988 Astronomical Units or about 116,240 miles from Earth. That is about 1/2 the distance from the moon to the Earth so we aren't talking peanuts here.

There are folks already sounding the alarms about how disconcertingly close this object is. One reports says it is 500m long which is enough to cause real damage. The Goldstone asteroid schedule at NASA calls the asteroid "Scheduled. Extremely strong target. Also scheduled at Arecibo." Here is a movie sounds an alarm about this body...

Am I worried? Not that much mainly because people like to sound alarms but mostly because little can be done about it at this point. If a large urban area is flattened then I will help the survivors (or survive if we are the blast zone).

What I find odd is that I find no news mention of this story between Britney Spears' public breakdown and the artificial political primary feuds. Not too odd since I read somewhere about this flyby that the last big "near miss" wasn't reported until 10 days later. Here is to hoping the MOID is accurate and it whizzes right past us.

Update: As with any event of this kind, the information here is sketchy and doesn't agree with other information. The Jet Propulsion Lab information labeled the MOID figure I cited above while the Goldstone schedule shows a figure between a minimum 0.0032 and a max of 0.0036 AU. This could be a difference in calculation where the larger minimum is based on a more stringent limit on deviation than the MOID. I don't know: I am not an astronomer. In any case, of the known celestial bodies this is as close a pass by as we are likely to see for a couple of decades. I hope the web attention, whether or not some blog skeptic thinks is silly, is enough to generate a little more media and NASA public interest in this event. It is as significant as any eclipse and the risk factor, no matter how small, should make it more interesting.


The Moody Minstrel said...

Target practice? :)

Don Snabulus said...

You'd like that wouldn't you?

Don Snabulus said...

Unfortunately there's crap in the targeting computer.

Overdroid said...

We should send Bruce Willis up there with some nukes to explode it, just to be sure.

Dave said...

Not to worry. The Moon's gravitational pull is sure to slingshot it into high earth orbit, where it will rain debris over the entire planet for days on end as its orbit decays.

Swinebread said...

The media sucks... thanks to the internet at least some of get to learn about it.

Some disgruntled attention whore said...


The Moody Minstrel said...

Unfortunately there's crap in the targeting computer.

Ahhh...the joys of an ashtray and an emergency brake handle!

Pandabonium said...


Use "Preparation A"!

Hill said...

Well, as Hillbilly would say....

Call Bruce Willis!


Dean Wormer said...


couldn't you just do dance party Friday?

Do you have to bring us the end of the world?


DewKid said...

Your facts don't jive with the video, so I'm guessing there's a typo? The moon is 400,000 km away, and this thing is coming within 500,000 km. That's not half the distance from the moon to the earth... in other words, it's not going to pass between the moon's orbit and the earth.

Still, that is pretty damned close.

DewKid said...

It looks like the video is mostly fake. They get some facts correct, but the picture isn't even the right asteroid! Take a look at the facts here.

Looks like Valentine's day is coming after all. (My wife will be overjoyed)

DewKid said...

Oops, my bad. The link above refers to a completely different video. Still, the information is good.

Don Snabulus said...

I got my info from NASA and my shaky memory.

The moon I figure is 250,000 miles away based on reading that kind of number several times over the decades.

The MOID at the time (it is slightly closer now) was a figure in AU that I multiplied by 93,000,000 (another figure out of my memory of miles to the Sun to get one AU) to get the figure in miles which was 116,240 at the time.

I might be a bit off, but not too far I don't think. Of course the MOID would need to be zero before they thought it would hit us.

I must admit that I didn't watch the video that closely and relied more on the NASA numbers.

If anyone wants to do more exact calculations using publicly available data, you may do so below the line.


I like cheese. Exactly cheese.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Isn't the Moon made of green cheese? What sort of cheese is that asteroid made of?

(Oops...I ended with a preposition!)


BTW, the mean distance from the Earth to the Moon is 238,860 miles according to this almanac on my desk. (Yes, I actually looked it up in a printed source of!) Don's AU calculation is also spot on. Stand under?