Threat of deadly rock hitting Earth persists
*Asteroid QV89 will appear close to planet on Friday, Sept 27
*Harvest Full Moon set to peak worldwide on Saturday, Sept 14
In recent times, there have been claims and counter claims on the possibility of a giant asteroid or rather deadly space rock hitting Earth and causing mass extinction, even of human existence.
The United States National Aeronautic Space Agency (NASA), on Monday September 9, 2019, announced that an asteroid that posed some “concern” to Earth’s safety would scrape past the home planet on September 27.
The asteroid, dubbed by NASA 2006 QV89, was first found hurtling past Earth 13 years ago. Even back then, NASA confidently estimated the rock would visit Earth again in September 2019. But a lack of concrete observations meant there was some uncertainty over how close the asteroid would approach Earth. The uncertainty led NASA’s Centre for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) to consider a small probability of impact this year.
On Monday, September 9, 2019, three asteroids hurtled past Earth. One passed as near as 310,000 miles (500,000 kilometres) — closer than any potential asteroid near-miss for the next three months.
Asteroid 2019 QZ3 flew by at 6:49 a.m. ET; asteroid 2019 RG2 followed at around 3:13 p.m. ET, and the third, asteroid 2019 QY4, flashed past at 9:10 p.m. ET, the International Business Times reported.
QZ3 is the biggest of the trio, with a diametre of 220 feet (67 metres), while RG2 and QY4, respectively measure approximately 66 feet (20 m) and 52 feet (16 m) in length, according to NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
Space rocks such as these, known as near-Earth objects (NEOS), are nudged by the gravity of neighboring planets into orbital paths that carry them fairly close to our cosmic address. But “close” in space is a relative term: At the closest point in their passage, all three of today’s asteroid visitors will be farther from Earth than the moon is, according to CNEOS.
RG2 is the fastest asteroid, speeding by at a velocity of nearly 50,000 miles per hour (80,000 kilometers/hour), while QY4 is moving at just over 17,000 mph (27,000 km/h). QZ3 is the slowpoke of the group, at 16,700 mph (26,800 km/h), according to IBT. Though QZ3 is the biggest asteroid, it is also the furthest from Earth, at a distance of approximately 2.3 million miles from our planet, CNEOS reported.
Another asteroid — 2006 QV89 — was previously thought to potentially follow a trajectory that could slam into Earth, with a one-in-7,299 chance of an impact on September 9. But experts announced in July that the asteroid did not appear in the area of the sky where it would have shown up if it were on a collision course with our planet, representatives with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) said in a statement.
CNEOS representatives confirmed on August 15 that QV89 was no threat to Earth, and that the asteroid would instead rocket past our planet on September 27 “at a comfortable distance of 4.3 million miles (6.9 million km), about 18 times the distance of the Moon.”
Currently, there are 878 NEOs that demonstrate some risk — however small it might be — of colliding with Earth, according to a list maintained by the European Space Agency (ESA). Of these, the biggest (and second on the list) is asteroid 1979 XB. Measuring about 2,300 feet (700 m) in length and travelling at more than 58,000 mph (93,300 km/h), the massive space rock is expected to come calling on December 14, 2113, ESA reported.
According to NASA, Asteroid QV89 will appear close to Earth on the morning of Friday, September 27.
Also, Nigeria and rest of the world are set for another astronomical spectacle, as the Harvest Moon also called the Corn Moon will reach its peak in the early hours of Saturday, September 14.
The phenomenon, which has been associated with aberrant behaviour over the centuries, is expected to last for two weeks up to the September 28 new moon.
The September Full Moon is a fan-favourite among amateur stargazers and astronomers alike. The Full Moon marks the midway point of the monthly lunar cycle, which lasts an irregular 29.53 days. During the Full Moon, the Earth’s lunar companion is fully lit by the Sun on its Earth-facing side.
In total, there are 12 Full Moon phases with unique names described by the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
The Full Moons are: January 21 – Wolf Moon, February 19 – Snow Moon, March 21 – Worm Moon, April 19 – Pink Moon, May 18 – Flower Moon, June 17 – Strawberry Moon, July 16 – Buck Moon, August 15 – Sturgeon Moon, September 14 – Full Corn Moon, October 13 – Hunter’s Moon, November 12– Beaver’s Moon, and December 12 – Cold Moon.
Also, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have found “hard evidence” of the asteroid that killed off dinosaurs.
The research, published Monday and reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal, shows the asteroid caused wildfires and tsunamis after hitting with the impact of 10 billion WWII-era atomic bombs.
Inside an impact crater off the Gulf of Mexico scientists discovered charcoal and soil, swept inside by the backflow of a tsunami within the first 24 hours of the asteroid impact, research said. This showed how the blast ignited trees and plants thousands of miles away from the impact zone, and triggered a far-reaching inland tsunami across the Americas.
But no sulphur was found in the core of the impact crater — meaning around 325 billion metric tons of sulfur was released into the atmosphere that day. This destroyed Earth’s existing climate, blocking out the sun and causing a global cooling period that caused the “mass extinction” of the dinosaurs.
So the dinosaurs were first fried and then frozen, said Sean Gulick, a University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) research professor at the Jackson School of Geosciences.
“The real killer has got to be atmospheric,” Gulick said. “The only way you get a global mass extinction like this is an atmospheric effect.”
Meanwhile, according to NASA Science: Solar System Exploration, the Moon will be full early Saturday morning, September 14, 2019, appearing “opposite” the Sun (in Earth-based longitude) at 12:33 AM EDT. The Moon will appear full for about three days centered on this time, from Thursday night through Sunday morning.
According to NASA, during the harvest season farmers sometimes need to work late into the night by the light of the Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the northern U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. The Harvest Moon is an old European name for this full Moon; the Oxford English Dictionary cites the year 1706 for the first published use of the name. Since the Harvest Moon is not always in September, other European names for the full Moon in September are the Fruit Moon, as a number of fruits ripen as the end of Summer approaches, or the Barley Moon, from the harvesting and threshing of the barley.
In the 1930’s the Maine Farmer’s Almanac first published full Moon names based on names used by the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northern and eastern United States. According to this almanac the full Moon in September or the last full Moon of summer is the Corn Moon, as this was the time for gathering their main staple crops of corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice.
Meanwhile, blaming the full moon for strange behavior is a time-honored tradition. In the first century AD, the Roman philosopher Pliny suggested that the full moon caused more dew to form, which led to increased moisture in the brain, and that, he said, led to madness.
The idea that the full moon makes people crazy did not go out of fashion along with togas, though—in the 1700s, a British legal expert and judge wrote, “A lunatic, or non compos mentis, is properly one who hath lucid intervals, sometimes enjoying his senses and sometimes not and that frequently depending upon the changes of the moon.”
In the 1970s, a popular book posited that just as the moon controls the tides, its gravitational pull affects the fluid sloshing around in human brains. Even today, you might hear stories about classrooms of students misbehaving and people getting hurt in freak accidents around the full moon.
For decades, researchers have pored over hospital records and police blotters, and time and time again, they’ve come up with the same answer — the full moon doesn’t seem to be associated with more strange things happening than usual. No uptick in births, no synced up menstrual periods and no madness.
Often, studies that do make this claim don’t hold up to scrutiny. In one paper, researchers posited that there are more car crashes during the full moon. They later retracted it after realizing that many of those full moons were on weekends, when more people are on the road. But despite the lack of evidence, lots of people still believe that the full moon makes things… weird.
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