There’s too much going on up there in the universe for us to follow and that’s what makes astronomy so much fun. The universe is like this living amoeba with all sorts of things living in it and moving around within it. It’s constantly changing and has no real form.
So you never really know what you’re going to see through your telescope (or with the naked eye) each time you look up at night.
Ever seen an asteroid on the move, through the night time sky or entering our atmosphere as a meteor? It’s breathtaking, awe inspiring, and can actually make you a little nervous.
Wanna’ hear a bad joke? Asteroids are the rock stars of astronomy. L-O-…no.
But…asteroids are on the move when you see them. They’re blazing through the sky and exciting as heck to see. I still think of the asteroid belt in The Empire Strikes Back and Han Solo and Chewbacca navigating the Millenium Falcon through it with deft.
And while that’s really cool and all….
The non-movie theories about asteroids have enough power of their own to make own a little nervous, right? I mean, extinction of the dinosaurs and slamming into Earth-wiping out millions of people and causing a never-ending, planet wide winter.
They’re Here…Now They are There. Nope…it’s Going this way now!
Asteroids are chunks of rock, ice and metal. Literally, huge pieces of heavy stuff that is hurtling through space. They’re fast. Between the Moon, Sun, another planet or another star, and an asteroid…the one with the best chances of slamming into the Earth is the asteroid. Check out any of the stories that already exist about asteroids banging through our atmosphere and leaving huge craters. (Not to mention the afore mentioned “big one” that wipe Tyrannosaurus Rex and his buddies.)
And this one….(sorry, the website is annoying but it’s interesting)
And culture has already accepted that it’s going to happen. Don’t believe me? It’s almost every other month that I read another Yahoo! Story about how close an asteroid came to Earth. So, yeah, real astronomers are looking for it because it’s a real possibility.
And then there’s pop culture with all of the “asteroid hitting Earth and killing everything” movies and stories.
And this one…
Can the Earth and her people survive another massive asteroid hit? Well, popular movies like Armageddon have tried to surmise.
So, here’s the realz dealz:
Most of the asteroids that we witness on our front porches with our telescopes come from an asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. It’s like a big, traveling city of asteroids and scientists have studied for a long time trying to figure out the composition, movement, speed, trajectory changes, etc about asteroids in an attempt to do the best they can at giving Earthlings a heads-up when one of those big baddies might get a little bit too close.
Like this study of asteroid Ida in 1994 (right? Talk about high school) Anyways… The NASA probe, Galileo, got within a thousand miles of Ida and realized it had its own moon.
Its. Own. Moon.
Now they’re firing probes and landing on asteroids to try to find out what these things are made of and to study trajectory and course.
It actually makes me feel better. That means they can probably land and blow it up or know it off course with an explosion to prevent from killing all of us. Cool, right?
Anyways, this wasn’t meant to be a doom and gloom blog post. It’s really just about why hobby astronomy, even beginner astronomy, is so much fun. There’s just must more out there that is bigger and badder than we are. We may or may not the be the pre-eminent lifeforms in the universe. Who really knows.
No matter what you believe. Science or whether a great power made the heavens and the Earth…you gotta’ respect the canvas and the creation. And appreciate it.