back to article Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds

A 60-foot-wide asteroid only discovered last week will have a close encounter with the Earth on Sunday, sliding past our planet a scant 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) from the surface. The asteroid, dubbed 2014 RC, was only discovered on August 31 by the US Catalina Sky Survey. It was confirmed by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope …

  1. keithpeter
    Windows

    "...sliding past our planet a scant 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) from the surface..."

    Roughly 52 Earth cross sections within the 29 000 mile radius from centre.

    Pretty close!

    1. Charles Manning

      ... or ....

      25k miles/40k km is approx once around the world at the equator.

      That is surely approx 3 earth cross sections/ 6 earth radii.

      It is also 3.3 million London buses.

      Sureley that's a far better benchmark for most people than a fraction of distance to the moon?

      1. John Tserkezis
        Paris Hilton

        Re: ... or ....

        "Sureley that's a far better benchmark"

        How about however many Paris Hiltons laid end to end?

        You get not only a unit of measurement, but a joke too!

        1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: ... or ....

          Thats a big number but the real question is "Has Paris Hilton got laid that many times?"

  2. VinceH

    "Astronomers will be watching 2014 RC closely as it passes by and zooms off around the Sun. It's likely that the rock will be swinging by at some point in the future and its encounter with Earth's gravity will change the asteroid's orbit slightly, potentially putting it in position for an even closer encounter with our planet."

    And the orbit may also be altered so that its further away in future.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Unless its orbital period is some convenient multiple of 1 year, we have nothing to worry about even if it precisely crosses our orbit next time around. We won't be there.

      The real concern surely comes from the occurence of two near misses within 50 cross-sections within 18 months.

    2. Charles Manning

      "...And the orbit may also be altered so that its further away in future."

      This was the astronomer's once-in-a-lifetime chance to be in the media. May as well dramatise - it makes their role in society seem more pressing.

    3. itzman

      ....And the orbit may also be altered so that its further away in future

      I think statistically that is probably far more likley.

      Years ago some of us in a drunken evening coded up an iterative solutin to the N body problem - a program we called 'orbits' in which more or less random planets and suns were arranged in random places at random velocities.

      The only ones that were stable for more than a few orbits comprised a large mass and some smaller ones. Even those had a tendency to catapult any other masses out of the ecliptic plane into outer space.

      In a remarkably few cycles those in a plane would settle into harmonically related orbits.

      Our conclusion was that the solar system was they way it was because anything else is unstable.

      And will either converge towards a solar system type layout or fly apart.

      Stuff on deep elliptical orbits around the sun is very prone to have its path altered to go nearer the sun: That can throw it out of orbit altogether.

  3. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Is this new?

    Obviously it's a bit worrying something like that can sneak up on us, but, is this a case of we've only just got to the stage where we have the technology to notice this stuff or are 2014 RC and the Chelyabinsk asteriod/meteor/magma an exceptional coincidence?

    1. 142

      an exceptional coincidence?

      > an exceptional coincidence?

      Watch this documentary - or at least from the 46 minute point.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vv0w8/horizon-20102011-6-asteroids-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly

  4. DropBear
    Joke

    I propose ...

    ...we erect a couple of giant tennis rackets around the equator that will deflect any incoming rock. We might even fit space elevators inside the hollow "handles". Come on, it's a win-win!

    1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: I propose ...

      ...we erect a couple of giant tennis rackets around the equator that will deflect any incoming rock. We might even fit space elevators inside the hollow "handles". Come on, it's a win-win!

      But what if out opponent is a giant blancmange? On second thoughts, that's probably no problem. Unless the blancmange is actually SCOTTISH...

      (this is no fun any more)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disappointment.

    ""The asteroid's apparent magnitude at that time will be about 11.5, rendering it unobservable to the unaided eye."

    : (((((((((((

    1. Red Bren

      Re: Disappointment.

      The problem with the unaided eye is its inability to see through the thick cloud that always accompanies these events.

      If this object is difficult to see, the skies will be clear!

  6. channel extended
    Facepalm

    Next Rosetta target?

    If we had known about this asteroid ealier, we could have set up a Rosseta style probe. This would cut down on the communication delays and let us watch in real-time.

  7. cookieMonster

    RC

    I suppose that stands for Real Close

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    Hang on!

    I think we may have made a slight miscalculation lads, I think it's going to hit...................................

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah well, we're doomed anyway.

    Ho hum.

  10. tempemeaty

    Practice makes perfect

    Someone must have a really big gun, because they keep loading it with asteroids. I don't know who it is but me thinks their aim is improving with each one....

    1. 4ecks

      Re: Practice makes perfect

      Want to know more ?.....

      Remember Service guarantees Citizenship!

    2. Kiwi Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Practice makes perfect

      Someone must have a really big gun, because they keep loading it with asteroids. I don't know who it is but me thinks their aim is improving with each one....

      It's the Moon Riders..

      Well, the Academy wanting us to think it's them anyway...

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Practice makes perfect

      You just had to go and post that didn't you? Everything would have been fine, but no YOU had to go ruin it. Now Ming knows his hand has been detected and we're doomed.

      Or at least Flash only has 14 hours to save the Earth, but he's tied up in a trademark suit with Adobe.

  11. Kharkov
    Alien

    Can anyone spot the hidden message?

    Earth-passing asteroids are nature's way of asking...

    'How's that space program coming along?'

  12. Richard Tobin

    Nowhere near satnav

    GPS satellites are not in geostationary orbit. They're at about 13,000 miles, so nowhere near this asteroid.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Nowhere near satnav @Richard Tobin

      They're at about 13,000 miles, so nowhere near this asteroid.

      Given the numbers, the sats were closer to the asteroid then they are to us when it passed.

      [That or I was really badly taught maths at school!]

  13. chivo243 Silver badge
    Meh

    Cartoon in the distant future

    will have filling stations called Humanco, because we will follow the dinosaurs. Impacts from space are a lottery we will win eventually. Sad, but true.

  14. Tubz
    Pint

    No Problem

    Let it come, Chuck Norris is still young enough to do a EVA and bitch slap it out of our galaxy !

    1. Tom 13

      Re: No Problem

      Chuck Norris doesn't have to EVA to bitch slap it out of our galaxy, he only has to glare at it and it will explode in terror.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    I wonder,

    just how big impact would be needed to surpass man's own global extinction of species?

    They might have seen us coming but we had such a mass of hubris they could not deflect us.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. I wonder,

    Probably about a 9 mile asteroid would do the job.

    For maximum doomsday potential it would have to hit on land to cause a huge dust cloud comparable to the K-T event and ideally somewhere rich in sulphates.

  17. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    It wasn't an asteroid

    It was a bomber: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29106843

    I remember well that when Cheliabinsk meteor struck there was another bomber passing by the same day. For how long can we let this aggression go on unanswered? I call on the Space Fighter Command to finally pull their finger out and scramble, FFS.

  18. itzman
    Paris Hilton

    Well its Monday..and Im still here. I think.

    Damp squib?

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