Category Archives: General

No Asteroid Impact Expected

meteorshowerThis would have been more fun at the end of October.

NASA: There is No Asteroid Threatening Earth

Numerous recent blogs and web postings are erroneously claiming that an asteroid will impact Earth, sometime between Sept. 15 and 28, 2015. On one of those dates, as rumors go, there will be an impact — “evidently” near Puerto Rico — causing wanton destruction to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States and Mexico, as well as Central and South America.

That’s the rumor that has gone viral — now here are the facts.

“There is no scientific basis — not one shred of evidence — that an asteroid or any other celestial object will impact Earth on those dates,” said Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

In fact, NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program says there have been no asteroids or comets observed that would impact Earth anytime in the foreseeable future.  All known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids have less than a 0.01% chance of impacting Earth in the next 100 years.

The Near-Earth Object office at JPL is a key group involved with the international collaboration of astronomers and scientists who keep watch on the sky with their telescopes, looking for asteroids that could do harm to our planet and predicting their paths through space for the foreseeable future. If there were any observations on anything headed our way, Chodas and his colleagues would know about it.

“If there were any object large enough to do that type of destruction in September, we would have seen something of it by now,” he stated.

Another thing Chodas and his team do know — this isn’t the first time a wild, unsubstantiated claim of a celestial object about to impact Earth has been made, and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last.  It seems to be a perennial favorite of the World Wide Web. 

In 2011 there were rumors about the so-called “doomsday” comet Elenin, which never posed any danger of harming Earth and broke up into a stream of small debris out in space. Then there were Internet assertions surrounding the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012, insisting the world would end with a large asteroid impact. And just this year, asteroids 2004 BL86 and 2014 YB35 were said to be on dangerous near-Earth trajectories, but their flybys of our planet in January and March went without incident — just as NASA said they would.

“Again, there is no existing evidence that an asteroid or any other celestial object is on a trajectory that will impact Earth,” said Chodas. “In fact, not a single one of the known objects has any credible chance of hitting our planet over the next century.”

NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing 30 million miles of Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called “Spaceguard,” discovers these objects, characterizes the physical nature of a subset of them, and predicts their paths to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. There are no known credible impact threats to date — only the continuous and harmless infall of meteoroids, tiny asteroids that burn up in the atmosphere.

JPL hosts the office for Near-Earth Object orbit analysis for NASA’s Near Earth Object Observations Program of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena

Image Credit: A Geminid meteor by  Jimmy Westlake

Cosmic Butterfly – NGC 2346


This new image of NGC 2346 located in the constellation Monoceros showing unprecedented resolution of the molecular hydrogen gas. The image is about 1 arc minute on a side: north is up, east is to the left. In contrast, the size of the full moon is 30 arc minutes.

Credit: NOAO

From the National Optical Astronomy Obersvatory (NOAO):
NOAO scientists, using the Gemini Observatory 8-meter telescope in Chile, have obtained the highest resolution image ever obtained for the planetary nebula NGC 2346. Shaped like a butterfly, or an hourglass, but known scientifically as a bipolar planetary nebula, this object is at a distance of 2300 light years from our sun in the constellation Monoceros.

Continue reading


NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center recently upgraded the foam fire suppression system for their aircraft support hangar – this shows the system being tested.

In another life, seems like it anyway, I was an emergency medical responder. We participated in drills involving aircraft fire when the fire suppression teams deployed foam, it was amazing but nothing this dense.

I was at a fire where a virtual mountain of tires was on fire, thousands of tires. The heat was incredible, the fire department hit the fire with foam and almost instantly the fire was out, you’d have to see it to believe it. Again the foam was not as what is depectied in the video seems to be so I bet the system will work great, even though I hope it never has to.


Earth At Aphelion


We will reach our farthest distance from the Sun today 06 July 2015 at 19:41 UTC / 15:41 EDT.

Notice that the June solstice was 15 days ago. Why doesn’t aphelion occur on the solstice? That all has to do with the way the Gregorian calendar fixes the dates so there isn’t too much variation. Thanks to variations in the elliptical orbit the time of year Aphelion and Perihelion does change. The change is according to about a day every 58 years. In fact they did concide in the year 1246 and will again sometime around the year 6430.

Another explanation in video form is here.

And while I’m at it here’s a nice look at A Walk though Time.

Happy Solstice!


Today the Sun reaches its most northern point in the sky in the northern hemisphere and the lowest in the southern hemisphere.

Put another way,  for the northern hemisphere: the June solstice is when the subsolar point or that point where the sun is perceived to be directly over head, is at the northern most latitude it will attain before due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis and is on the Tropic of Cancer (23.44 deg). After the June Solstice the Sun will day by day become lower in the northern sky until the December solstice when it rises to its lowest point of the year.

The southern hemisphere experiences the opposite, so today the Sun is at its lowest point and after today will gradually reach higher in sky until the December solstice.

The moment of the June Solstice occurred  today concurrent with the publishing of this post at 16:38 UTC.  US Naval Observatory.

Note: I am going by the USNO time, it’s being reported in other media the time is 16:39 UTC – see

My typical June solstice tradition is to take a nice long walk at sunrise, heavy rain made me skip the walk.


Image: Creative Commons

Did You Miss Towel Day

Gee, 25 May was Towel Day and I completely missed it. Sad.

A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. –  “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (Doug Adams)

Wait until next year :mrgreen: