Mars comet strike in 2014?

Mars could be at risk of comet strike in 2014

By Ian Steadman 27 February 2013

Astronomers have realised that a comet discovered last month appears to be on course for a close flyby of Mars next year — and uncertainty in its projected path means that it could hit the Red Planet.

C/2013 A1, discovered by Robert McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, was spotted on 3 January out between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. After digging into data from other observatories, astronomers were able to reconstruct its orbit going back 74 days. Projecting that forward, it became clear that it would fly pretty close to Mars sometime on 19 October 2014 — which means there is a slight chance of it impacting the planet, according to astronomer Ian Musgrave. Now, further observations have increased that chance (though it’s still not very likely, before anyone starts panicking about the fate of the Curiosity rover). Continue reading

Asteroid 2012 DA14… 2012… yup

Within the moon’s distance from the Earth, approximately 21,000 miles from us and closer than the orbits of geosynchronous sattellites, but it won’t hit us. But what if it hits one of those sattellites?

Hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s Day, just in case…

Asteroid 2012 DA14 to sweep close on February 15, 2013
EARTHSKY // BLOGS // SPACE Deborah Byrd FEB 12, 2013

It’ll pass within the moon’s distance from Earth – closer than the orbits of geosynchronous satellites. But it won’t strike us in 2013.

A near-Earth asteroid – called 2012 DA14 by astronomers – will pass very close to Earth on February 15, 2013. Astronomers estimate that, when it’s closest to us, it’ll be within the orbit of the moon (which averages about a quarter million miles away), and closer than some high-orbiting communications satellites. 2012 DA14 will be about 17,200 miles (27,680 kilometers) away. It will not strike Earth in 2013. Astronomers’ calculations of asteroid orbits can be trusted. After all, even decades ago, they knew enough about calculating orbits to send people to the moon and bring them safely back, and today we are able place our space vehicles in orbit around objects as small as asteroids.

The asteroid won’t be visible to the eye, but you can watch the February 15 asteroid flyby online, in real-time.

So, no, 2012 DA14 won’t strike us in 2013. There was a remote possibility it might strike us in 2020, but that possibility has been ruled out also.

What will happen when Asteroid 2012 DA14 passes closely in 2013?

What will happen when it passes us? The short answer is … nothing. On the day it passes, most of us won’t see it or be aware of its passage, in any way. The asteroid won’t alter the tides. It won’t cause volcanoes. It’ll just sweep closely past us – as millions of asteroids have done throughout Earth’s four-and-a-half-billion-year history – some in your own lifetime.

The asteroid will be within range for small telescopes and solidly mounted binoculars, used by experienced observers who have access to appropriate stars charts. Here’s what NASA says about its visibility:

On [February 15, 2013], the asteroid will travel rapidly from the southern evening sky into the northern morning sky with its closest Earth approach occurring about 19:26 UTC when it will achieve a magnitude of less than seven, which is somewhat fainter than naked eye visibility. About 4 minutes after its Earth close approach, there is a good chance it will pass into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes or so before reappearing from the eclipse. When traveling rapidly into the northern morning sky, 2012 DA14 will quickly fade in brightness.

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1945 Crop Circles?

Are Crop Circles More Than Just Modern Pranks?

By Yue Wang | Feb. 02, 2013 | Newsfeed.Time.Com

A Tasmanian historian used Google Earth images to argue that crop circles, which are often dismissed as jokes taken too far, are not simply a modern hoax, according to the Huffington Post.

Many were persuaded that the intriguing circles were nothing more than pranks when two British men, David Chorley and Doug Bower, revealed in 1991 that they, under the cover of darkness and armed with wooden planks and barrels, had been creating circles across the wheat fields of southern England since 1978.

The two “ jovial con men in their 60s,” as described by a local newspaper at the time of the revelation, demonstrated in front of groups of journalists how they trampled out the patterns that were often attributed to aliens, reported the New York Times.

But historian Greg Jefferys, who has a degree in archaeology, says he has new evidence that not all crop circles have a human origin.

After spending more than 300 hours examining aerial photographs from Google Earth’s new 1945 overlay, Jefferys concludes that a number of crop circles has been appearing consistently each summer for at least 33 years before Chorley and Bower began their work. Continue reading