Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Asteroid flying by Earth 1/10/08, another may hit Mars 1/30/08

Asteroid 2005 WJ56 will fly past Earth on January 10, only 2.6 million miles
away. This kilometer-wide space rock will be close enough for experienced amateur astronomers to photograph as it flies by. It the constellation Taurus looking like an 11th magnitude star.

The asteroid 2005 WJ56 ephermis / coordinates are here

Date TT R. A. (2000) Decl. Delta r Elong. Phase V
2008 01 05 07 27.69 +62 27.3 0.0465 1.019 140.0 38.3 12.9
2008 01 10 05 10.08 +21 52.3 0.0281 1.008 149.4 29.8 11.6
2008 01 15 03 54.39 -28 53.9 0.0418 0.995 105.3 72.4 13.6


Astronomers say asteroid 2007 WD5. , 160 feet (50 meters) across, has
a chance of striking Mars on January 30. The power and energy would be similar to the
1908 Tunguska blast in Siberia, where a mysterious object now thought to be a
stony asteroid or old comet core exploded about 7 miles above the landscape and destroyed trees over the 810
square miles (2,100 square km) landscape. A chance is , 1 in 350 or better of a hit .
While it might strike near the equator, the Mars Rovers are not in danger as they are outside of the impact area.
If it punches Mars, the hole would be the size of the Meteor Crater in Arizona.

When my wife and I visited the crater a few years ago, I took a video and photographed aseries of pictures of the inside of the crater. I created a Quicktime VR panorma movie with it
Click on my website page Meteor crater and Mt. St. Helens panorama


Then click on the the Meteor Crater two-pane pictures and you will then see a little circle. Click and drag your mouse clockwise and you will see the whole inside of the crater.
I also did one for time when I helicoptered into the crater of Mt. St. Helens in 1988 and made a panorama. That way you can see the insides of two different craters, one volcanic and one a meteor crater and compare the two.

Astronmers have never seen an asteroid hit Mars but we did have a spectacular view of parts of a comet hit Jupiter in 1994. If a hit is immenent, this should be interesting to watch as when I watched the Comet Shoemaker- Levy
plough into Jupiter in 1994 when I was working on an astronomy project at Harvard U. Here is a a Hubble picture of one piece of the comet hitting Jupiter and the fireball seen (infra-red taken with a NASA KECK space telescope- bottom left on Jupiter photo).


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