Friday, May 17, 2013

Danger! Asteroid and Solar Flares (not really)!

Orbital path of QE2.

I love the name of this asteroid: QE2. Asteroid 1998 QE2 is expected to fly by the Earth on the last day of May. The headlines read: "Huge Asteroid to Fly Past Earth this Month." Although you can tell we're not in danger from the title, its still sounds more ominous than the truth: "Large asteroid won't come near us." Of course that doesn't sound as cool. What IS cool, though, is that QE2 has a diameter of 9 times the length of the famous Queen Elizabeth 2 Ocean liner. SO it IS way bigger than, say, the rock that slammed into Russia this year. But, and this is a BIG BUT, it will fly past us about 3.6 million miles away. That's pretty distant for Near Earth Objects. AND... AND... scientists will get a GOOD look at its surface. SO that's pretty neat. And I love it that people are paying attention.

Solar Flare emitted from Sun today.

I also love it that the news guys are paying attention to Solar Weather! TOday, we are being side-swiped by a pretty large burst of Solar radiation and particles which erupted from the Sun on the 15th. Folks living north of latitude 40 degrees might get some cool Northern Lights. As for me, naw, it's raining here at the command bunker in Utah. But another flare erupted today, and this one is pointed right at us. As with all solar storms, the radiation and particles can play havoc with our satellites and astronauts high up in orbit, so here's hoping our shields (Earth's Magnetic Field) will do its job and protect us.

More on solar conditions at
More on QE2 at JPL:

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