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Giant asteroid to make closest flyby of earth in recorded history (on April 13th, 2029)
The New Zealand Herald ^ | February 15th, 2005 | Steve Connor

Posted on 02/15/2005 3:27:08 AM PST by ajolympian2004

A giant asteroid the size of three football pitches will make the closest flyby of Earth in recorded history for an object of its size, scientists said.

It will pass between the Earth and the Moon and will even come closer than the orbit of many telecommunications satellites, although astronomers insisted that there is little chance of a collision with the massive rock.

Anxious Earthlings need not worry too much for another 24 years, however, because asteroid 2004 MN4 is not due to make its closest approach to Earth until approximately 10pm London time on Friday 13th April 2029.

The latest calculations of the rock's orbit suggest that it will come so close that it will probably be visible to the naked eye from Britain. It will shine in the sky as a dim, fast-moving star - the first asteroid in modern times to be clearly visible from Earth without the aid of a telescope or binoculars.

The asteroid was first discovered in June 2004 and calculations of its orbit made by astronomers last Christmas Eve suggested that there was a one in 60 chance of it colliding with the Earth. However, within a week this was revised down to virtually zero probability of a collision.

If it did collide it would cause an explosion equivalent to several hydrogen bombs being detonated simultaneously, turning vast areas of land into desert or generating a giant tsunami if it landed in the ocean.

The latest revisions of the calculations have refined the asteroid's orbital path to suggest that it will pass our planet by the relative whisper of 36,350 km - well within the orbit of geostationary satellites and about a tenth of the distance to the Moon.

This is by far the largest of the top ten closest asteroids recorded by astronomers. Only two others have come closer and both were much smaller objects - tens of yards wide instead of the 320 metres of asteroid 2004 MN4.

Professor Mark Bailey, director of the Armagh Observatory, said that there is little danger from the asteroid even though it will come close enough for its orbit to be directly affected by the Earth's gravity - causing the path of the space rock to swing away.

"I think everyone is saying that it's going to miss. It'll pass so close though that you'll be able to see it with a small telescope and even with the naked eye," Professor Bailey said.

"It's like being on a train station platform and watching an express train go by three feet away. You're close, but it's not dangerous," he said.

Large asteroids have frequently collided with the Earth in the past and some of the larger ones have caused massive devastation on a global scale. They can send huge plumes of dust and debris into the atmosphere, blocking out sunlight for several years and causing the environmental equivalent of a "nuclear winter".

Last autumn a much bigger asteroid called Toutatis, which is about 2.9 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, made its closest flyby to Earth but its distance was still four times greater than that separating the Moon and the Earth.

Unlike asteroid 2004 MN4 and despite its size, Toutatis was not visible to the naked eye.

Steve Chesley, of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said that asteroid 2004 MN4 is unusual because so much is known about its orbit before it makes its closest approach in 24 years time.

"All the others in the top ten were discovered during the close approach, whereas for 2004 MN4 the close approach is predicted well in advance," Dr Chesley said.

Scientists estimate that on average an asteroid of this size would be expected to pass this close to Earth about once in every 1,300 years.

Asteroid 2004 MN4 circles the Sun, but unlike most asteroids that reside in a belt between Mars and Jupiter, the 323-day orbit of the asteroid lies mostly within the orbit of the Earth, making further encounters likely.

"However, our current risk analysis for 2004 MN4 indicates that no subsequent Earth encounters for the 21st Century are of concern," said Dr Chesley and his colleagues at JPL


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: 2004mn4; asteroid; callingartbell; catastrophism; chondrite; doomed; doomsday; earth; jet; laboratory; moon; nasa; propulsion; sun
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1 posted on 02/15/2005 3:27:09 AM PST by ajolympian2004
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To: ajolympian2004
"No man knows the day or the hour...." The Holy Bible

I was thinking of this a few weeks ago. Suppose we were told the day and the hour? Then this prophecy was confirmed by early astronomers who found a large asteroid/comet that would one day collide with the earth. How would this knowledge change the life of peopleand history? Would civilizations then number their calendars based on how many years left until doomsday? Would science advance faster in an effort to prevent doomsday or escape it? Would people bother procreating in the last hundred years?

Thank you for allowing me to express the thoughts trap in my eccentric brain.

2 posted on 02/15/2005 3:42:25 AM PST by eccentric (aka baldwidow)
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To: ajolympian2004

If it comes towards the Earth, we can push Michael Mooreon in front of it. His blubber can cushion the impact!


3 posted on 02/15/2005 3:43:32 AM PST by HMFIC (The Peace Symbol is the FOOTPRINT of the American CHICKEN!)
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To: ajolympian2004

I suggest we launch two space shuttles filled with quirky yet loveable offshore drillers to save the planet.


4 posted on 02/15/2005 3:50:39 AM PST by flying Elvis
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To: ajolympian2004

Hope the math done is better than the one that sent a mars probe straight into the ground.


5 posted on 02/15/2005 4:18:49 AM PST by Semper Paratus
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To: eccentric
Some would call it "doomsday" and all bets would be off. Others would call it "Judgement Day" and all bets would be off. I would be on the team calling it Judgement Day and cannot truthfully say I know how I would act.

God Bless.

6 posted on 02/15/2005 4:19:18 AM PST by trebb ("I am the way... no one comes to the Father, but by me..." - Jesus in John 14:6 (RSV))
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To: ajolympian2004

Cool. Friday the 13th.


7 posted on 02/15/2005 4:29:06 AM PST by Diverdogz
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To: ajolympian2004

2029?

I couldn't care less. I'll be dead by then.


8 posted on 02/15/2005 4:50:06 AM PST by El Gran Salseron ( The replies by this poster are meant for self-amusement only. Read at your own risk. :-))
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To: El Gran Salseron

Or shortly thereafter.


9 posted on 02/15/2005 4:51:25 AM PST by Fierce Allegiance
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To: ajolympian2004

"three football pitches"

What is a football pitch, and how big is it?


10 posted on 02/15/2005 4:54:18 AM PST by seams2me (Laura Bush is my first lady for 4 more years!)
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To: ajolympian2004

This might be a good opportunity to implant an a-bomb onto the asteroid. After it has passed earth, detonate it and make sure that we won't have to worry about it in the future.

It might also be an interesting spectator sport.


11 posted on 02/15/2005 4:56:47 AM PST by Brilliant
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To: Semper Paratus

Yeah, remember the Russian ship that made a soft landing on the moon at 500 miles an hour?


12 posted on 02/15/2005 4:56:58 AM PST by ditto h
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To: ajolympian2004

Football Pitches?

they are obveously confused.....


13 posted on 02/15/2005 5:04:54 AM PST by Vaquero
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To: Vaquero

read later


14 posted on 02/15/2005 5:09:11 AM PST by lyby (stay-at-home mom)
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: lyby

read what later???

hell there are pitches in baseball not football.....

(friggin Kiwi's)


16 posted on 02/15/2005 5:11:48 AM PST by Vaquero
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To: seams2me

Football Pitch = Soccer Field


17 posted on 02/15/2005 5:13:47 AM PST by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (Give Them Liberty Or Give Them Death! - Islam Delenda Est! - Rumble thee forth...)
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To: ditto h
But the Russians didn't mixed up feet and meter. Therefore the NASA impact on Mars was not very smart.

P.S.: I don't trust theirs calculations.
18 posted on 02/15/2005 5:15:28 AM PST by MHalblaub (Tell me in four more years (No, I did not vote for Kerry))
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To: eccentric
Would people bother procreating in the last hundred years?


19 posted on 02/15/2005 5:16:36 AM PST by pageonetoo (you'll spot their posts soon enough!)
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To: eccentric

Asteroid Collision End-of-the-World Party
My Place
8pm until ???, Doomsday
Free Drinks


20 posted on 02/15/2005 5:19:15 AM PST by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (Give Them Liberty Or Give Them Death! - Islam Delenda Est! - Rumble thee forth...)
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To: flying Elvis
"I suggest we launch two space shuttles filled with quirky yet loveable offshore drillers to save the planet."

I vote we instead build a super secret space ship equipped with an Orion drive developed by Russia's massive space program and have a number of young virile astronauts to train to take this ship and ram it into the asteroid but at the last minute have a 60 year old codger astronaut lead them in the name of feeling better with someone with experience at the helm.

Oh yeah and I vote we have Tea Leoni try to jump-start her career by getting an announcing gig on MSNBC during the Asteroid crisis. (Especially since her movie career died hard and fast.)

21 posted on 02/15/2005 5:22:00 AM PST by Mad Dawgg (French: old Europe word meaning surrender)
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To: ajolympian2004

There are many things that could destroy the earth or at least civilization as we know it. There are asteroids, nuclear weapons, plagues, wars, volcanoes, atmospheric destabilization and massive economic collapse. Spend you time on this earth living, laughing and loving, because you can't control tomorrow. Stand always for what is right and just, and let God handle the rest. A person, or country, can be prudent and as prepared as possible for disasters, but so much of fate is beyond our knowing./p>


22 posted on 02/15/2005 5:27:58 AM PST by dog breath
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To: Mad Dawgg

Tea is always welcome at the Flying Elvis Blondes Shelter should she find herself down and out with no place to go.


23 posted on 02/15/2005 5:28:37 AM PST by flying Elvis
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To: eccentric

Very interesting and sobering observations!


24 posted on 02/15/2005 5:30:48 AM PST by cvq3842
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To: ajolympian2004
IT'S ________ FAULT!!!!!! (insert any of the following names Bush, Rice, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, etc)

DNC approved message. Howard Dean Grand Pooh-bah.
25 posted on 02/15/2005 5:34:32 AM PST by common-sense-man-1776
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To: ajolympian2004

Before 2029 let's strip mine that rock until only dust remains! Anybody know the probable makeup? If its a carbonaceous-chondrite like most near-Earth asteroids it should have enough water and hydrocarbons in it to power a thousand Mars missions. If its a nickel-iron asteroid we hit the jackpot with hundreds of tons of platinum group metals not to mention the billion tons of steel we can make. Its not a hazard..its a gift.


26 posted on 02/15/2005 5:44:12 AM PST by darth
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To: ajolympian2004
"football pitches"????
27 posted on 02/15/2005 5:51:07 AM PST by azhenfud ("He who is always looking up seldom finds others' lost change...")
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To: Vaquero
Football Pitches?

they are obveously confused.....

They meant baseball field goals.

28 posted on 02/15/2005 5:59:01 AM PST by Allegra ("They Just Love to Walk in the Middle of the Road!")
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To: Allegra
Football Pitches? they are obviously confused.....

Not as long as they use a football bat.

29 posted on 02/15/2005 6:09:12 AM PST by BulletBobCo
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To: eccentric
I was thinking of this a few weeks ago. Suppose we were told the day and the hour?

You might be interested in reading Lucifer's Hammer, in which a large comet is detected heading toward Earth. Good story (but I've always like TEOTWAWKI stories).

30 posted on 02/15/2005 7:21:11 AM PST by Max in Utah (By their works you shall know them.)
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To: azhenfud
gay
31 posted on 02/15/2005 7:28:22 AM PST by evets (God bless president George W. Bush)
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To: Max in Utah
" You might be interested in reading Lucifer's Hammer..."

Yes. Interesting book. I read it a few years ago and enjoyed it. Could it happen? Probably so.

I'm not going to worry though because my wife and I will likely be "in the planet" by then. There is always concern for our offspring and for those who come after them.

32 posted on 02/15/2005 7:33:28 AM PST by davisfh
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To: seams2me

Must be a regional dialect, as in "Get me a beer, pitch!"


33 posted on 02/15/2005 7:49:01 AM PST by eno_ (Freedom Lite, it's almost worth defending.)
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To: dog breath

You are correct. We could get toasted by some blast of cosmic radiation that makes asteroids look like video game by comparison. Could happen today.


34 posted on 02/15/2005 7:51:28 AM PST by eno_ (Freedom Lite, it's almost worth defending.)
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To: ajolympian2004

WERE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!!!


35 posted on 02/15/2005 8:07:22 AM PST by Texas Federalist
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To: Max in Utah

Interesting book, but the character development is just awful...


36 posted on 02/15/2005 8:18:44 AM PST by TFine80
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To: davisfh

The other interesting thing about the Hammer was that it was the resulting tsunamis that did the most damage. Obviously, this came to mind recently.


37 posted on 02/15/2005 8:20:20 AM PST by TFine80
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To: ajolympian2004

Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


38 posted on 02/15/2005 8:21:05 AM PST by Fury
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To: UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide

The wife and I will be there - on time!

CA....


39 posted on 02/15/2005 8:44:53 AM PST by Chances Are (Whew! It seems I've once again found that silly grin!)
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To: Mad Dawgg

You know, Tea really is a good looking woman!

CA....


40 posted on 02/15/2005 8:48:12 AM PST by Chances Are (Whew! It seems I've once again found that silly grin!)
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To: ajolympian2004

Hey, that's the same day Social Security becomes insolvent, right?


41 posted on 02/15/2005 9:05:39 AM PST by thoughtomator (If Islam is a religion, so is Liberal!)
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To: TFine80

Yes. And I recall the days of saline rain. I would
assume that was caused by billions of tons of seawater
being vaporized and cast into the upper atmosphere. And
regarding the tsunami, I recall some surfers getting in
on the act and riding "the ultimate wave" to their deaths.


42 posted on 02/15/2005 9:35:09 AM PST by davisfh
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To: seams2me
What is a football pitch, and how big is it?

If you have a good arm, about 60 yards.

43 posted on 02/15/2005 9:42:41 AM PST by Erasmus ("They caught my baby makin' booze, but you know I love her still.")
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To: ajolympian2004

Thank you for posting this article.

The real problem here is that it is assumed that between now and the asteroids arrival inside our solar system, the asteroid will be on an UNINTERRUPTED path.

That is like stating that the Eagles will win the SUPERBOWL in 2029 because they have a good team right now.


44 posted on 02/15/2005 10:21:54 AM PST by UCANSEE2 (sH)
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To: thoughtomator

See -- it all works out.


45 posted on 02/15/2005 12:03:12 PM PST by BenLurkin
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To: Mad Dawgg

46 posted on 02/15/2005 12:06:19 PM PST by BenLurkin
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To: HMFIC
To Funny!! lol

How about an artillery weapon that we can load with liberals and shoot at it, maybe if we dent it by repeatedly launching liberals at it we could save mankind........and stop that damn asteroid!!!
47 posted on 02/15/2005 12:14:18 PM PST by TheForceOfOne (Social Security I thought pyramid schemes were illegal!)
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To: ajolympian2004

I'm not worried. I'm sure Bill Belichick will figure out a way to keep us all safe from harm's way.

WWBBD

What Would Bill Belichick Do?


48 posted on 02/15/2005 1:52:51 PM PST by baclava
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To: seams2me

A soccer field, and about 120 yards.


49 posted on 02/15/2005 2:33:11 PM PST by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: lepton

lepton says 120, erasmus says 60?

I'm so confused!


50 posted on 02/17/2005 6:00:44 AM PST by seams2me (Laura Bush is my first lady for 4 more years!)
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