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Posted at 02:47 PM ET, 10/31/2011

Asteroid flyby: Prepare to duck

So there’s some kind of asteroid barreling toward Earth and on Nov. 8 it’s going to miss us by only a couple of hundred thousand miles, which is less than the distance that John Beck routinely overthrows his receivers (and hey, how about my man Tebow? He directly produced three touchdowns, two of which were scored by the opposing team on a fumble return and a pick-six. Face facts: Ain’t enough miracles in the universe to turn him into John Elway). The asteroid, 2005 YU55 (street name: Yu-dogg), is about a quarter of a mile across, so it’s not a planet-buster. But it’d make a nice crater if it hit the Earth’s surface. [Update: Thanks to this asteroid impact calculator from Purdue, I’ve determined that the rock, if it hit Earth, would make a crater 2.44 miles in diameter and about 3/4ths of a mile deep. But it’s possible that I made a miscalculation. I plugged in an asteroid diameter of 300 meters and assumed it was fairly dense.] In this photo, below, put out by the National Science Foundation, it looks pretty round. In fact it looks so round as to be borderline artificial-looking. Like a bullet. Like a warning shot, over the shoulder. Like space telling Earthlings: Watch it. The next one gets you right betwixt the eyes.


Rogue rock or Death Star? (Michael Nolan - Arecibo Observatory via National Science Foundation)


Graphic showing how Earth and moon can duck out of the way of oncoming asteroid [The animation doesn’t seem to be working here so click on the NSF site and you’ll see the rock zooming by.] (NASA)

By  |  02:47 PM ET, 10/31/2011

 
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