Wednesday Audio, 10 am — Two Asteroids to Pass the Earth

The Great Daylight Fireball: An asteroid passes the Earth at noon in 1972. This photograph, obviously taken with some lush slide film (just a guess -- Kodachrome).

According to Space News, two asteroids will pass the Earth on Wednesday. They have unrelated orbits and will pass between the Earth and the Moon — one early in the morning, the other in the late afternoon. Nice little greeting to the Virgo New Moon.

Two asteroids, several meters in diameter and in unrelated orbits, will pass within the moon’s distance of Earth on Wednesday, Sept. 8. Both asteroids should be observable near closest approach to Earth with moderate-sized amateur telescopes. Neither of these objects has a chance of hitting Earth.

A 10-meter-sized near-Earth asteroid from the undiscovered population of about 50 million would be expected to pass almost daily within a lunar distance, and one might strike Earth’s atmosphere about every 10 years on average. The Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Ariz., discovered both objects on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 5, during a routine monitoring of the skies.

Got that? Undiscovered population of 50 million? That means there’s more than just Ceres, Juno, Pallas and Vesta. But Ceres alone makes up fully one-third the total mass of the main belt. There are lots of other little belts, and solo practitioners, and then there’s the the Kuiper Belt, of which Pluto is a proud, indeed, was the first-discovered member.

This kind of flyby happens fairly regularly, though there was a spectacular event in 1972 that I discovered by accident last week that pretty much tops them all. That was the Great Daylight Fireball, shown above on a clear day at noon. Here is the Wiki page on that event.

I’ll have more to say about this in Wednesday’s audio, which will be posted at about 10 am. Stay tuned.

3 thoughts on “Wednesday Audio, 10 am — Two Asteroids to Pass the Earth”

  1. From my coverage of the Sept. 11 incident in 2001:

    The upcoming Mercury retrograde, which lasts from Oct. 1 through Oct. 22*, bears another interesting mark. The retrograde begins in the last degree of Libra, its election degree. It ends in the exact degree it occupied during the World Trade Center/Pentagon attacks. Mercury does not quite speak English — we are left to interpret the meaning of these symbols. But this is a little like Lassie running up to a Florida voting booth and barking three times, then running up to a model of the World Trade Center, barking three more times, and then leaping on top of the television set.

    At which point, America says, “Oh! Billy fell down the well at the old Swanson place!”

  2. while i was playing snooze-tag with the radio, i’m pretty sure i heard the npr correspondent say the second one will be passing below the earth, and therefore only visible from antarctica, unfortunately.

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