back to article ATLAS flubbed: Comet heading our way takes one look at Earth, self-destructs into house-sized chunks

Stargazers hoping to glimpse a comet close to Earth next month are in for a disappointment: it fell apart en route. The comet C/2019 Y4, commonly referred to as ATLAS after its discovery by the Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System in Hawaii, broke off into as many as 30 shards – each one the size of a house – judging …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's not a comet...

    ...It's an invasion fleet. They know we've seen them and are now splitting up to flank us.

    1. You aint sin me, roit
      Mushroom

      Re: That's not a comet...

      We'll know for sure when Red Leader accelerates to attack speed...

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: That's not a comet...

      Not us, all we need to do to cripple earth is to wipe out your supplies of Tea, Coffee, Wine and Beer!

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: That's not a comet...

        Not us, all we need to do to cripple earth is to wipe out your supplies of Tea, Coffee, Wine and Beer!

        Oh the horror.. the humanity. Have they no compassion? Were doomed. Doomed I tell you.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

          Re: That's not a comet...

          No but to be honest it will be so slow only one brand will be affected at one time.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: That's not a comet...

        ah, hard liquor it is then. Bring it on ya' scallywags!

      3. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge
        Alien

        Re: That's not a comet...

        > ... wipe out your supplies of Tea, Coffee, Wine and Beer!

        Their advance agents have already destroyed live sports and nights at the pub. Their work here is just beginning...

        1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

          Re: That's not a comet...

          > ... wipe out your supplies of Tea, Coffee, Wine and Beer!

          I brew my own :-)

    3. Annihilator Silver badge

      Re: That's not a comet...

      Yep, pretty sure this is the mechanism used in Independence Day.

      "What the hell is it, a meteor?"

      "No sir, no definitely not"

      "How do you know?"

      "Well sir, it's uh, slowing down"

    4. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: That's not a comet...

      No problem, I have a small dog.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: That's not a comet...

        Krypto?

  2. macjules Silver badge
    Alien

    Nice to see

    That taxpayers money has been well spent on Earth's planetary defences.

  3. Paul Herber Silver badge

    <four yorkshiremen>

    House-sized chunks? You were lucky! Now you can use the comet ice to make nice cup of tea. Cold tea.

    </four yorkshiremen>

    1. Roger Greenwood

      You had cups?

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Ay, cups. We 'ad to gather 'orse droppings from t'coalman's 'orse, mould it into cups wi' our bare hands and put by t'fire to harden.

        Weren't no fire mind, but we 'ad t'do it anyway.

        1. Kane Silver badge

          You had fire?

    2. Christoph Silver badge

      Yorkshire Tea, of course.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Trollface

        :O might as well say how you make your tea (Which triggers everyone!).

        **Sips Twinings Everyday tea** (I get it cheap)

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
          Gimp

          We've had that argument before...

          About all we could agree on was that milk in the teapot was an abomination and anyone who thinks otherwise should be carefully examined in padded rooms whilst wearing fetching straight jackets.

          1. Scott 53

            Re: We've had that argument before...

            I once encountered milk and sugar in the teapot. Sterilised milk. I didn't go back.

      2. Annihilator Silver badge

        I trust you saw the hilarious Twitter reaction when some knuckle-dragger discovered that tea wasn't grown in Yorkshire?..

        https://www.indy100.com/article/brexit-yorkshire-tea-not-grown-in-england-africa-india-tea-trade-twitter-viral-funny-8200416

        1. Toni the terrible

          Well Tea is grown in Cornwall, maybe with global wqrming it will eventually be grown around Harrogate?

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Alien

    It's a decoy

    The real invasion fleet is coming sneakily from behind the sun.

    1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: It's a decoy

      No, just par for the course.

      Just when we think an asteroid might come and make some adjustments to the housing market (by removing large amounts of houses) it just fizzles out into tiny* chunks like a disappointing snowball that dissolves upon impact rather than having a satisfactory thunk from the ice core inside.

      * tiny on a cosmic scale.. Also depends upon the measure of a house. Any Register measurements bureau standards for a house?

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: It's a decoy

        Any Register measurements bureau standards for a house?

        Yeah. One House (Hs) = 2 x net lifetime income (after tax, rent, bills, etc). One London House (LHs) = 3 Hs.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It's a decoy

      "The real invasion fleet is coming sneakily from behind the sun."

      You may jest, but most "previously unknown" earth-grazing vistors do EXACTLY that and are only seen once they've gone past us.

      Something to do with being very small and grey-to-black, against a very large, very bright object more or less directly behind them....

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: It's a decoy

        Bloody Teasers!

  5. DJV Silver badge

    it fell apart en route

    Ah, it's being delivered by Yodel, then...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it fell apart en route

      At least Yodel delivers something. A company that sounds a bit mythical however...

  6. The Jon
    Alien

    Semantics

    You say "disintegrated", I say "released its payload".

  7. SeanEllis

    Why is it getting dimmer? I would have thought that more chunks = more surface area = more outgassing = more tail = more brightness.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "I would have thought that more chunks = more surface area = more outgassing = more tail = more brightness."

      Alternatively, more chunks, spinning faster, therefore not heating the sun-facing surface up so much, plus giving it a chance to radiate heat when that surface is facing away

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      More chunks, but spread over a wider area, so it's "bigger" and therefore spread out over a wider area.

      Also, a lot of the gas that formed the outgassing was probably lost in the break-up (and caused it).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Certainly lots of gas results in more chunks. What were we talking about again?

  8. Alister Silver badge

    You just can't get reliable comets these days.

    When I were a lad, they were built like... umm... like... err... big lumps of rock, but these modern ones, they just fall apart.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      "reliable comets"

      It's mostly due to everyone leaving their lights on at night, when we were kids you could see an entire sky full of stars, even the milky way almost every cloudless night. But nowadays there so much light that you can only see the moon and Venus most nights, occasionally a few other objects delivering Internet service. It's hard to even see the meteor storms most years - I haven't see a meteor in 20 years since I spent a few days camping in the middle of nowhere on the Mexican side of Rio Grande.

  9. spold Silver badge

    Coincidence?

    April 6th - Trump signs executive order establishing U.S. policy on the exploitation of off-Earth resources, a couple of weeks later a comet breaks up. I expect an immediate launch of Space Force (now in Supermarionation) armed with picks and shovels. Got to mine it before the Mytsterons get it.

  10. Peter Stone
    Happy

    Ahhhh

    So will we have a Shoemaker-Levy-9 event here on Earth?

    (Before people comment, I know it won't get any closer than 70 million miles, but it would be briefly interesting :) )

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Ahhhh

      Yikes, that would surely start the crackpots: The plague, a star falling, people marked by the number of the Google beast for Covid-19 tracking purposes...

      Repent! Repent, and give me all your money you won't need anymore!

  11. HildyJ Silver badge
    Devil

    Because somebody had to say it

    The pandemic is apparently well known in the universe.

    First the asteroid which was coming close enough that it decided to wear a mask.

    Now the comet that is further away and decided social distancing is sufficient.

  12. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Lucifers Hammer?

    It was just minding it's own business out in the peace and calm of the Kuiper Belt when some bloody great object came along and knocked it off course ever so slightly. Slowly but surely, at an ever increasing rate, it approached the maelstrom known as the inner solar system. It was just rocks in a big ball of ice, sort pf like a hot fudge sundae. But don't worry, it'll miss us. Then it started to break up, the parts diverging from their original course. This year, Hot Fudge Sundae falls on a Tuesdae.

    (Sorry if I messed up Larrys story)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (Quietly packing up my terawatt laser) Nothing to see here anymore...

    (no text)

  14. herman Silver badge
    WTF?

    Does it reassemble again?

    Considering that this probably not the first ever orbit of this comet, I'm wondering whether the comet will pull itself together again once it is further away from the sun.

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