back to article ATTACK of the FLYING MOUNTAIN: 2004 BL86 goes by like a BULLET

NASA has warned skywatchers that a huge asteroid will pass over European and North American skies on Monday and that it will be the biggest space rock to do a fly-by of our planet until 2027. Most asteroids that pass us are smallish, between 50 and 100 meters wide. This latest visitor, asteroid 2004 BL86, is half a kilometer ( …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One for the budget fetishists

    These close flybys are always useful to point out to that (to my mind at least) unimaginative swathe of humanity who insist, without apparent thought, that any spending on space is an utter waste of money and there are more problems to fix here on Earth. Pointing out that a larger one will eventually come a great deal closer, solving all those problems in a flash, rarely changes their minds, but does at least put their fervent fundraising for emotionally traumatised squirrels in perspective, albeit briefly.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: One for the budget fetishists

      I think the "unimaginative swathe of humanity" probably is wrapped up in their own selfies, they wouldn't notice until that last split second before it smacked them in their heads. As for the putting things in perspective... doubtful... except maybe to change their efforts from say: "Save the Spotted Owl" to "Save the Spotted Owl from the Horror coming from Spaaaaaaaaaaace!!!!!" On Tuesday, it will be back to normal.... <sigh>

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One for the budget fetishists

      How do we know those squirrels aren't just acting traumatized?! They're very clever...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One for the budget fetishists

        I think its the Red squirrels in question; they've been off their nuts since the fall of the Berlin wall and the disastrous arrival of their American cousins.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: One for the budget fetishists

          Traumatized squirrels will be taken care of. The Prez is about to announce the next effort, "Squirrelcare" and he has already found another 30 billion stashed behind an old HP printer in the Eccles Building.

    3. Florida1920 Silver badge

      Re: One for the budget fetishists

      Emotionally traumatized squirrels are a lot closer than this asteroid. Therefore, they pose a greater present danger. So do a host of other problems here on earth. It simply makes no sense to say, "Oh, look, an asteroid may get us, so let's overlook anything else." We ought to be able to handle more than one problem at a time.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: One for the budget fetishists

        It's not that "we" can't handle more than one problem. It's the media can't. They'll seize on one topic that's trending and run the piss out of it until then next big breaking scandal.. err.. news. And, the antics of the Kartrashians always will trump big news from science.. even a doomsday prediction.

        The squirrels have it easy.. eat some nuts, hide in their hole, bite some idiots who get too close.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: One for the budget fetishists

          >It's not that "we" can't handle more than one problem. It's the media can't.

          Do giant space rocks cause cancer or cure it ?

          Will a trillion ton asteroid impact affect house prices?

          Was Diana hit by an asteroid?

          Are giant asteroids caused by climate change?

          Instability on metals markets as trillion tons of iron-nickel delivered early.

    4. Benchops

      Re: One for the budget fetishists

      Indeed. I love Arthur C Clarke's point that

      "the reason the dinosaurs died out is because they didn't have an effective space programme."

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Devil

    Hopefully...

    ... a fat piece breaks off and creates a 1500 megaton crater in the midst of Europe.

    We could then call it "QUANTITATIVE EASING EUROCRATER"

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      If we're cherry-picking destinations I wouldn't mind "quantitative easing" of Washington D.C.

      Um, am I flagged by the NSA now ?

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        No, but your are now flagged by Paul Krugman.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Um, am I flagged by the NSA now ?

        Nope. You should assume instead that you have always been flagged by the NSA.

        Full disclosure: I can neither confirm nor deny that I can confirm or deny that you actually have been flagged, nor that I would have to kill you if I did.

  3. gregthecanuck
    Facepalm

    Philae Phail

    Why is nobody landing on this very close body, but instead focusing on a comet n-squintillion miles away?

    Surely this must have some very interesting possibilities?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Philae Phail

      It's called "mission lead time".

      How long was philae in the development stage?

      Now, if we had a few VESTA-powered nature-violating goodness in silos down in New Mexico, ready to go, we could. But we don't.

    2. Annihilator

      Re: Philae Phail

      Because it's moving a heck of a lot faster than the one Philae landed on. Orbital mechanics are tricky, but the idea is to get into roughly the same orbit as the comet (matching speed and heading, Captain), and the Rosetta target was a lot closer to earth's than this one will be (given it orbits the sun every 200 years compared with 67P's 6 year period).

  4. Elmer Phud Silver badge
    Mushroom

    "Thankfully, there's no danger of that."

    We all gonna DIE!!!!!!

  5. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Rev.6

    [13] And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

    If a wandering Black Hole whizzes past the Oort Cloud this may actually happen, or perhaps I should say "come to pass". I don't suppose that there would be much or any warning and certainly no defence against it.

    As I have not yet mastered "Jaunting"*, the only option would be to fly continuously around the world staying on the side that was not being bombarded. Refuelling might be a problem.

    I seem to have woken in a pessimistic mood today :(

    *Although the return trip from the pub last night appears to have been instantaneous.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Rev.6

      I don't suppose that there would be much or any warning and certainly no defence against it

      On the contrary. You would have about 100'000 years of increasing comet passages. You may fail to build up a defense in that time, but you only would have yourself to blame.

  6. zfuddz

    greater affects?

    I am curious if anyone out there is doing any type of studies on the gravitational waves something like this must be creating while it flies through space? Yes it wont hit us directly but these waves will affect our planet & solar system for several months perhaps years?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: greater affects?

      No need

      1) This mass is so small that any General Relativity gravitational effects are totally swamped by gravitational noise your St Bernard dog creates when moving around the house. Indeed, we can use Newtonian gravity to get good results about trajectories of the N-body system under analysis.

      2) "Gravitational waves" are very weak (Directly from Jimbo's Dubious Font Of Knowledge: If we use the previous values for the Sun and the Earth, we find that the Earth's orbit shrinks by 1.1×10^−20 meter per second. This is 3.5×10^−13 m per year, which is about 1/300 the diameter of a hydrogen atom. The effect of gravitational radiation on the size of the Earth's orbit is negligible over the age of the universe.). They also propagate at lightspeed, so are soon gone.

    2. Sarah Balfour

      Re: greater affects?

      Well, the greater EFFECT might be that it could destroy most of the planet, which would AFFECT the population greatly.

      Effect = usually a noun, rarely a verb

      Affect = usually a verb, rarely a noun

      Apologies, but rampant insomnia tends to awaken my inner grammar Nazi.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: rampant insomnia tends to awaken my inner grammar Nazi.

        Well, in that case El Reg needs to hire you and keep you awake for 12 hours before letting you at their end of day copy for editing. It's been visibly lacking since they lost their last Mistress of Grammar. And I note that as someone who at best got C+ not A on my grammar grades in school.

  7. WalterAlter

    You Just Wait 'Till Chelyabinsk 2 Hit's Us in the Yarbles

    We'll have a much better reason for a political unification of humanity under a single globalist oligarch agency than that will 'o' the wisp global climate change warming, which is probably why we are witnessing a general ho humish approach to the potential pin ball end of life on Earth.

  8. Little Mouse

    Worth the Wait

    I hope it's the Phoenix Asteroid at last. I've been waiting sodding ages for that bastard to come around again.

  9. Dropper

    Selfie Time

    I wonder if Facebook and Twitter will fail under the weight of selfie posts should an Asteroid come a little closer to the planet.. after all who would miss the (last) opportunity to pron yourself on these websites with a post showing your gorgeous smile and an asteroid burning through the atmosphere in the background..

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Certainty?

    How can anyone be certain that this is the only large rock to pass near Earth for the next 200 years? We are not looking for threats such as this to be so confident, are we? Have we deployed an orbiting radar system to watch for these beasts? No? Have we got a telescope array in space that is certain to spot them ahead of time? No. Why so much confidence then? Oh, that's right. Our governnors do not want us to get upset about their propensity to only deal with threats that are both convenient and profitable for them to address.

    1. David L Webb

      Re: Certainty?

      How can anyone be certain that this is the only large rock to pass near Earth for the next 200 years?

      The article says that this is the closest this particular asteroid will approach Earth for 200 years not that it will be the only large rock to pass near Earth for the next 200 years. Indeed the article starts by saying

      NASA has warned skywatchers that a huge asteroid will pass over European and North American skies on Monday and that this will be the biggest space rock to do a fly-by of our planet until 2027.

      So it is already known that a larger asteroid will be getting close to Earth in 2027.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Faceboom

    LOL!

    Along with "I survived Armageddon and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" shirts...

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Re. 2004 BL86

      Who comes up with this kind of bullshit.

      6.39 pm on Monday

      Can't even into timezones. Flat Earth Society, I presume?

  13. Jonathan Richards 1
    Unhappy

    Last chance to see...

    As far as I can tell from http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2004%20BL86;orb=1 the asteroid won't be above the horizon for UK observers until close to dawn tomorrow (Monday 26th), so slim chance actually to see, even if one had a big enough telescope. Happy to be contradicted!!

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Last chance to see...

      It passes high in the sky from the UK on Monday night, I believe.

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