Ironic Interlopers15th Feb 2013
THE CNAAG EVENT Putting our trust in the forecast which gave us almost ideal conditions to observe the close pass of Asteroid 2012 DA14, 9 telescopes were set up at Chipping Norton airfield in eager anticipation of the event. The asteroid weighing 130,000 tons and travelling at about 6km per second was calculated to pass within 18000 miles of the Earth and be visible through binoculars and promised to be a great target for the astrophotographers. With great irritation and testing our patience to the full , the encroaching cloud, which initially gave enough breaks to view the ISS, Moon, Jupiter and Orion, instead of clearing continued to thicken to the point where even the most optimistic CNAAGer had to admit defeat. Despite that setback an evening of astro chat and interviews by Barry and Laura of Witney Radio and the crew of Witney TV ensured that we all got something out of the evening. It appears that due to extensive cloud cover there were very few people that got a good view from the UK but one thing is for certain it will not be the last close shave for us all. THE RUSSIAN EVENT News broke in the early hours of Friday 15th Feb of a meteorite plunging to Earth in Northern Russia with an escalating number of reported injuries, ending up at over 1000. This object was originally estimated to have been around 10 tons in weight, this has since been revised and re estimated to have been closer to a staggering 10,000 tons. With a 500 kiloton blast the object exploded, the resultant shock wave shattering windows and showering people with shards of flying glass and causing one factory wall to collapse. By the sound of it, as many media people headed for the area as did rescue workers as the event headlined globally. The videos taken by people from their dashboard cams and mobile phones were fascinating and an edited selection can be seen on YouTube here – a truly staggering and spectacular rare event which can only serve as a warning to us all that these objects are lurking out there somewhere. For sheer timing it could have not been better as we prepared ourselves for the close pass of Asteroid 2012 DA14 that same evening. Both events carried a strange irony in as much as the interloping asteroid was something we detected some time ago and knew about well in advance, but we were not able to see; and the meteorite we had no warning of and knew nothing about at all was seen by thousands as it reached the ground.