Gigantic asteroid near miss coming this Thursday

asteroid-impactGuest essay by Eric Worrall

The Express reports that a colossal one mile wide asteroid will brush past the Earth this Thursday, with a closest approach of 3 million kilometres – far too close for comfort, with a rock that big.

According to The Express;

The gigantic missile thought to measure almost a mile across will brush closer than previous monsters which have sparked a global panic.

Worried astronomers warned 1999 FN53, which is an eighth of the size of Mount Everest, will skim the Earth in THREE DAYS.

A collision would be nothing short of catastrophic triggering mass destruction, earthquakes and global extinction.

The monster is more than TEN TIMES bigger than other meteorites currently visible on NASA’s Near Earth Object radar.

It is also double the size of the gargantuan 2014-YB35 which had astronomers around the world watching the skies in March.

Experts warn a collision would trigger an explosion similar to millions of megatons of TNT and would be capable of killing 1.5 billion people.

Read more:

On this occasion a collision seems unlikely – but it doesn’t take much of an orbital perturbation to put an Earth grazer onto a collision course.

A collision of 1999 FN53 with Earth, especially an ocean strike, would be nothing short of catastrophic. The fire and blast alone would likely kill millions. It would cause massive earthquakes across the world. An ocean strike would raise mountain size tsunamis which would smash coastal cities thousands of miles from the strike. The climate impact would also be significant – the Younger Dryas, a brutal collapse in global temperatures which lasted 1200 years, may have been caused by an asteroid impact.

What could we do if a large Asteroid on a collision course was detected? The answer is quite a lot, given a few years warning. The Manhattan Project scientists, in the 1950s, developed a simple design for a space drive whose capabilities were straight out of science fiction – capable of lifting gigantic payloads in a single stage to orbit. The most powerful designs could have powered starships – up to around 10% of the speed of light. Such a ship could be built in a year or two, if it was a priority, and would be more than capable of pushing a dangerous asteroid into a different orbit.

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May 11, 2015 6:11 pm

“given a few years warning” — there’s the rub. When was it noticed that 1999 FN53 is going to come so close?

Reply to  daveburton
May 11, 2015 6:26 pm

The beginning of the designator is the year of discovery; so, it was discovered in 1999. It’s possible that we didn’t know enough about its orbit to predict its next approach, but that seems unlikely.

george e. smith
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 11, 2015 7:23 pm

The way I figure it, that “monster” will pass through an area 55,507 times the area of the earth.
So I guess that means about one chance in 55,500 that it will hit us.
If I’m not mistaken, we already have a monster asteroid millions of times bigger than this one, and it is just sitting there much closer than this thing is going to come; maybe it s8 times closer.
This sounds like a “send more grant money” advertisement to me.

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 11, 2015 9:16 pm

It will go through the edge of that area. It will go through a point on that edge. The risk is not this time, but next time it’s near. While its future path will be a bit uncertain, it will go though about the same point on Earth’s orbit on each trip around the Sun. Exactly how long it will be before it and the Earth link up again is uncertain. Wait until we have a better handle on the orbital perturbation.

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 11, 2015 10:20 pm

My understanding is that the closer the body’s path is to linear, the harder it is to calculate its path accurately. If it’s headed straight for us, we’ll have little warning.

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 7:32 am

It’s close enough to the earth that the earth’s orbit will significantly perturb it’s orbit. Knowing the exact distance from the earth on this pass will help us to calculate where it will be over the next few years.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2015 10:20 am

Look up : then search for ( 1999 FN53 ) then click on (close approach data). Au is the distance between earth and sun which is 149 597 871 kilometres. You can do the maths. You will see it passed closer in 1999.

george e. smith
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 2:41 pm

May 11, 2015 at 10:20 pm
My understanding is that the closer the body’s path is to linear, the harder it is to calculate its path accurately. …..”””””
What was the last celestial body that was found to be following a linear trajectory ??

Gary Pearse
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 5:36 pm

George E. Smith, You probably should chop a zero or two off your target since gravity makes it different than a dart board, and of course, hitting the moon should also be factored in- it could still do us harm.

Rational Db8
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 6:09 pm

Ok, I confess – I don’t understand why this seems to be such a huge concern, so is it primarily just media sensationalism? I mean, isn’t it on a trajectory that has it passing something like 26 times the distance of the Earth to the moon? Am I missing something? I mean, I get that it’s huge and would cause horrible damage – but it sure sounds like the chances of it coming anywhere near us is virtually nil??

Reply to  Rational Db8
May 12, 2015 6:14 pm

Rational Db8

Am I missing something? I mean, I get that it’s huge and would cause horrible damage – but it sure sounds like the chances of it coming anywhere near us is virtually nil??

This press release guarantees them the exposure they need for next few budgets the next few fiscal years.

Rational Db8
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 8:43 pm

Thanks for the reply and confirmation. I was afraid I might have been missing something, but was sure suspecting it was sensationalism. Appreciate the confirmation. Gawd I hate it when papers do this sort of thing – they stretch and exaggerate beyond all recognition, and it’s disgusting.

george e. smith
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 13, 2015 1:29 pm

Gary Pearse
May 12, 2015 at 5:36 pm
George E. Smith, You probably should chop a zero or two off your target since gravity makes it different than a dart board, and of course, hitting the moon should also be factored in- it could still do us harm……”””””
Well I didn’t define the target; the article did. Now I might have inadvertently left one of the PIs in there, so it might be only one in 18,000 spots in the target are.
The article gave no direction in space as seen from earth, for the track of the space ship, so it the earth could be anywhere in that circle.

george e. smith
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 14, 2015 12:37 pm

Well did we get nearly missed yet ? Izzit ok to climb out from under the desk ?
Everybody around me (coffee shop) is hollerin’ at each other so evidently they aren’t aware of just what isn’t about to happen.

Reply to  daveburton
May 11, 2015 8:13 pm

This is even scarier than a 1 degrees rise in temperatures.

Winnipeg Boy
Reply to  Mick
May 12, 2015 8:39 am

not even close. 1 degree rise in temp can wreck a perfect filet mignon

Reply to  Mick
May 12, 2015 1:00 pm

So party is Wednesday night, and steak comes off a bit early… Red wine so as not to add to warming with a fridge…. Got it!

george e. smith
Reply to  Mick
May 12, 2015 2:44 pm

Somebody a hell of a lot smarter than me (Canadian Nobel Physics Prize winner), told me: The smallest portion of any sphere still has exactly the same curvature as the whole !!

Reply to  daveburton
May 11, 2015 11:36 pm

Is this asteroid responsible for the recently declared El Niño event we expect to experience over the next 12 months?

Reply to  dog
May 12, 2015 5:44 am

That could leave one hell of a wake!

barry johnston
Reply to  dog
May 12, 2015 5:58 am

It sure would give a whole new meaning to the phrase “Surf’s up!”

Steve Garcia
Reply to  dog
May 12, 2015 3:42 pm

They got it bass ackward… CO2 emissions have been what caused this body to soon pass within 3 million miles of Earth. Everybody knows that, The science is settled.

Tom Crozier
Reply to  daveburton
May 12, 2015 10:49 am

It’s not. According to NASA the closest approach will be about 26.5 Lunar Distances, more than 6 million miles.
This is a non-event.

Reply to  daveburton
May 13, 2015 8:07 pm

They have been kinda quiet about this one. I wonder why?

Reply to  bobforthis (@bobforthis)
May 13, 2015 8:20 pm

3 million or 5 million miles is not especially “close”, and I agree with others that this report must have been a “slow news day” or designed to distract from something else. If so, it appears to have worked.

Steve P
May 11, 2015 6:17 pm

The gigantic missile thought to measure almost a mile across will brush closer than previous monsters which have sparked a global panic.

missile: an object that is forcibly propelled at a target, either by hand or from a mechanical weapon.
The breathless hyperbole of the Express notwithstanding, extra-terrestrial bodies crossing Earth orbit are a real danger of an entirely different sort than errant word usage.

The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley
Reply to  Steve P
May 11, 2015 11:48 pm

This is the ‘newspaper’ that every few weeks runs a ‘terrible weather storm’ report! Pathetic rag.

May 11, 2015 6:18 pm

How big are the error bars on that 3-million-kilometer estimate?

Reply to  Louis
May 12, 2015 1:05 am

Very small. On the order of a few thousand kilometers.

Tom Crozier
Reply to  tty
May 12, 2015 1:52 pm

I respectfully disagree. Since the actual distance is 6 million miles, the 3 million km estimate is off by about by about 4.8 million km, in the direction of safety.

May 11, 2015 6:22 pm

I don’t have a feel for the scale, but could something that big zooming close by Earth cause any measurable change in our gravity?

Reply to  Paul
May 11, 2015 6:29 pm

Not in the slightest. Our most sensitive instruments would never be able to detect the gravity from a 1-mile-wide asteroid 1.6 million miles away.
BTW: a curious mix of measurements in the announcement; either English or metric, but please be consistent!

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 10:38 am

While on Earth, i believe it could be measured away from the Earth/Moon’s influence. It will have no measurable influence on our system.

Aert Driessen
Reply to  Paul
May 11, 2015 11:59 pm

Would there be any ‘bow-wave’ effects? Perhaps disturbance of the e-m field?

Reply to  Aert Driessen
May 12, 2015 1:06 am


Reply to  Aert Driessen
May 12, 2015 9:00 am

In order for the asteroid to have bow-wave effects, it would need to be traveling through some medium, but space is a pretty hard vacuum. The Earth does have a pretty strong magnetic field, but the inverse-square law for distance means that at 1.6 million miles (3 million km) the effect would be vanishingly small. Unless the asteroid itself had an incredibly strong magnetic field, which would be unlikely in the extreme.
At this distance, the only effect that humans will feel from the asteroid’s passage is an increased risk of strokes, due to people’s blood pressure spiking in anger over such ridiculous news coverage.

Reply to  Paul
May 12, 2015 7:31 am

It may muss your hair a tad. Extra hair gel and you will be fine!

george e. smith
Reply to  Paul
May 12, 2015 11:10 am

Not in the slightest.
The gravitational force (gravity) will still be GM1M2/R^2.
So not to worry.

May 11, 2015 6:22 pm

I have the same question as Mr. Burton…just how long has this approach been known? I may have missed it but I don’t recall seeing any discussion of it online or on any TV network. One would think this might have been newsworthy.

May 11, 2015 6:23 pm

3 million kilometers is a pretty good berth. 8 or 9 times the distance to the moon.
On the other hand, a 1 kilometer asteroid hit is a very bad day.

Tom Crozier
Reply to  Bill Illis
May 12, 2015 11:37 am

I don’t know where the 3 million km came from. The distance will be more than 6 million miles, roughly 6% of the distance to the sun, about 32 light seconds away.

May 11, 2015 6:24 pm

Is it large enough to have tidal effects at that range?
If not I am perfectly comfortable with that distance.
I rather doubt it is large enough to cause problems at that distance considering it will be an order of magnitude farther away than the Moon. I’ll worry when they predict a rock big enough for the impact to cause global problems passing inside the Moon’s orbit.

Reply to  MattS
May 11, 2015 6:30 pm

Not in the slightest. The Moon is one-eighth the distance, and enormously more massive.

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 4:00 pm

Hey, what if one of these hit the Moon? Could it shatter it? I suppose even the moon (1/6 mass of Earth) is too large, but how large are the largest asteroids we could encounter?

Reply to  brians356
May 12, 2015 4:18 pm

There is no chance at all that a so-far-unseen asteroid could collide with the Moon with enough force to smash it. Our telescopes are already able to see virtually every dinosaur-killer class rock out there; that’s why they’re looking. Relatively small rocks like this one might cause continent-wide damage, but within 10 years or so, there won’t be any more big rocks that we won’t know about.
The worry will then become, are there any massive bodies in the Kuiper Belt or Oort Cloud that are periodically perturbing some rocks into the inner solar system; the “Nemesis” hypothesis? So far we’ve not seen any evidence of this, but the Webb space telescope will probably give us better answers.

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 4:21 pm

No, it could not shatter the moon, even though the moon is only 0.0123 the mass of earth, not 0.1667 times.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  MattS
May 11, 2015 6:51 pm

MattS, would you be more comfortable with this:
“The future for Apophis on Friday, April 13 of 2029 includes an approach to Earth no closer than 29,470 km (18,300 miles, or 5.6 Earth radii from the center, or 4.6 Earth-radii from the surface) over the mid-Atlantic, appearing to the naked eye as a moderately bright point of light moving rapidly across the sky. Depending on its mechanical nature, it could experience shape or spin-state alteration due to tidal forces caused by Earth’s gravity field. ”

Ian Macdonald
Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 11, 2015 11:17 pm

I thought SG-1 had dealt with thim.
But then, these bad guys have a nasty habit of coming back.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 12, 2015 7:32 am

It’s not going to bother me. Apophis isn’t that big. Even at that range, it wouldn’t have any tidal effects on the earth, and an impact while devastating to the area hit, would not be a global catastrophe.

Reply to  MattS
May 11, 2015 7:59 pm

I believe it last passed us on 1999-May-12 00:38. Not that I noticed.

Reply to  B.j.
May 11, 2015 8:25 pm

What day in May of 1999?, May 1? or the end of April?. Can you be more specific please?. Thanks B.J. Can you also specify what part of the world it might have been observed? I am really interested in this because of a visual observation we had during that time period. ( If you need to you can ask WUWT for my e-mail)

Reply to  B.j.
May 11, 2015 9:10 pm

@ 00:38 on the 12th may 1999. This link will give more imfo, you need to search (1999 FN53). Hope this helps.

Reply to  B.j.
May 12, 2015 11:39 pm

Thanks, it will and what we saw was april 30th 1999 must have been a large fireball awestruck!

Reply to  B.j.
May 12, 2015 11:47 pm

Thanks, we use the site but could not find anything on that date all these years ago, what we saw was on April 30th 1999 must have been a large fireball, we were awestruck! Living In Canada (around 50N/ 120L) I think maybe there was no radar coverage the direction it came from was unusual as well WNW to SE very low to the northern horizon (against “the flow”) nothing about sats etc, but thanks for the reply, cheers.

May 11, 2015 6:24 pm

I think it is certain that long before the next big asteroid hits, the human race will have gone extinct (our species is only a few hundred thousands years old, if that) or gone to the stars. I’ll be dead then, for sure.
Relax. I am more worried about the stock market crashing.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  joel
May 11, 2015 6:33 pm

But then there is Apophis.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 11, 2015 6:43 pm

Better send in Jack O’Neill.
Two Ls.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 11, 2015 7:32 pm

Stop it. Apophis is not an Earth killer. Impact energy: 1.2e+03 MT, or 1.2GT, or roughly 12 times the yield of the largest fusion weapon. 1950 DA is much more destructive.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 12, 2015 4:16 am

Tsk Tsk:
Perhaps not an Earth killer but certainly a very destructive object, especially if it hits in your area.

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 12, 2015 12:19 pm

@Tsk Tsk
OK, not an earth-killer or ELE, but I think it’s safe to say that even if it doesn’t ruin your day directly, the next couple or three generations of humans will have a rough go of it from the combined economic and environmental effects.

Reply to  joel
May 11, 2015 6:35 pm

I’m in cash, waiting for the crash.
Big objects at high speed hit the earth occasionally. Few, if any, people have been hurt in a hundred years. I see no reason to fear an asteroid . . . unless it has a gun. [TCC – 1999]

Reply to  Gamecock
May 11, 2015 8:20 pm

If the Tunguska strike had happened over a populated area, 100’s of thousands could have been killed.
The Russian meteor from last year hurt hundreds.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2015 2:54 am

All injuries were indirect. Broken glass, etc.
“If the Tunguska strike had happened over a populated area”
It hasn’t happened in 5,000 years of human history. The rate of accretion has dropped precipitously in 4,500,000,000 years. Big earth, few strikes. Nothing to fear here. You are far more likely to die from a bee sting.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2015 3:13 am


Big earth, few strikes. Nothing to fear here. You are far more likely to die from a bee sting.

Well, as I nearly did die after a series of wasp stings (18-24) when a big nest was disturbed, I will take your comparison with a different lesson. 8<)
More to the point, since the string of earth-sized impacts on Jupiter in the 1990's, there have been 4-5 additional huge cloud impacts observed. Collisions are not rare.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2015 7:37 am

Gamecock, unless the meteor lands on top of you, all the affects are indirect. Broken glass et. al. were the result of the meteor’s shock wave. No meteor, no broken glass. Bigger meteor or over a more populated area, and more people hurt.
Do you think there is some kind of cosmic law that all future meteor’s are going to land in Kunguska? Had the meteor landed an hour later, it would have hit St. Petersburg. 2 hours later and it would have hit somewhere in Europe.
Just because we have been lucky in the past is not evidence that we will always be lucky.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2015 7:40 am

In the last couple hundred years, there have been two observed impacts on the moon. Both would have been large enough to get through the earth’s atmosphere.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2015 11:45 am

The chances of being killed by a meteor are remote. This “event” changes nothing.
“3 million kilometre” NEAR MISS is theater.
Name me somebody who was killed by a meteor.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2015 2:05 pm

Gamecock writes: “Name me somebody who was killed by a meteor.”
We’ve been lucky so far, and our records aren’t good enough to know who in the Siberian wilderness might have been living near Tunguska in 1908. Before that, there were no historical records of impact events; Thomas Jefferson even wrote that he would rather believe that Yankee scientists would lie, than that rocks could fall from the sky. Of course, we’re unable to list by name the victims of Pompeii or Tambora; big explosions don’t leave many bodies.
But it HAS happened. About 15 years ago, a woman was injured when a smallish rock crashed through the roof of a New Jersey doctor’s office. And a boy in Germany was slightly injured when a pea-sized pebble hit his hand on his way to school. And a rock that smashed a car in somebody’s driveway – fortunately, there was nobody in the car at the time.
The Chelyabinsk meteor explosion caused mostly injuries from flying glass, as people rushed to the windows to see what the bright flash had been; all except for one classroom where the teacher remembered her “duck and cover” drills. Nobody hurt there.
About 25 years ago, there was an explosion very high in the sky over Indonesia, and there was a film of an “Earth-grazing” object that passed over Montana; I think that was back in the ’80’s. And there was an intriguing speculation from an MIT Press article about a possible near miss of a splintered comet which MIGHT have passed within a few thousand miles of Earth back in the 1880s….
But we HAVE been lucky. With more and more people, we WILL be hit again. Fire up Google Earth, and look for circular features that aren’t volcanoes. Impact craters. The Earth is 3/4 water; there’s a lot of ocean that won’t show much if something hits. But google “Burckle Formation”, and consider that the Noah stories and the Gilgamesh stories both tell of enormous floods – at about the same time.

Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2015 3:53 pm

There was a woman in Alabama who was hit in the hip when a rock came through her roof. Might have been in the 60’s.
Scientists are leaning towards the flooding of the Black Sea basin as the sea levels rose around 5000 years ago as the source of the Noah and Gilgamesh legends.

Rational Db8
Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2015 8:54 pm

No idea how accurate or complete this list is, but since you asked for a list of people injured or killed by a meteor, here it is for whatever it’s worth. Of course, the 1,000+ injured in Russia recently ought to be added:
1420 BC Israel – Fatal meteorite impact.
588 AD China – 10 deaths; siege towers destroyed.
1321-68 China – People & animals killed; homes ruined.
1369 Ho-t’ao China – Soldier injured; fire.
02/03/1490 Shansi, China – 10,000 deaths.
09/14/1511 Cremona, Italy – Monk, birds, & sheep killed.
1633-64 Milono, Italy – Monk killed.
1639 China – Tens of deaths; 10 homes destroyed.
1647-54 Indian Ocean – 2 sailors killed aboard a ship.
07/24/1790 France – Farmer killed; home destroyed; cattle killed.
01/16/1825 Oriang, India – Man killed; woman injured.
02/27/1827 Mhow, India – Man injured.
12/11/1836 Macao, Brazil – Oxen killed; homes damaged.
07/14/1847 Braunau, Bohemia – Home struck by 371 lb meteorite.
01/23/1870 Nedagolla, India – Man stunned by meteorite.
06/30/1874 Ming Tung li, China – Cottage crushed, child killed.
01/14/1879 Newtown, Indiana, USA – Man killed in bed.
01/31/1879 Dun-Lepoelier, France – Farmer killed by meteorite.
11/19/1881 Grossliebenthal, Russia – Man injured.
03/11/1897 West Virginia, USA – Walls pierced, horse killed, man injured.
09/05/1907 Weng-li, China – Whole family crushed to death.
06/30/1908 Tunguska, Siberia – Fire, 2 people killed. (referenced throughout paper)
04/28/1927 Aba, Japan – Girl injured by meteorite.
12/08/1929 Zvezvan, Yugoslavia – Meteorite hit bridal party, 1 killed.
05/16/1946 Santa Ana, Mexico – Houses destroyed, 28 injured.
11/30/1946 Colford, UK – Telephones knocked out, boy injured.
11/28/1954 Sylacauga, Alabama, USA – 4 kg meteorite struck home, lady injured.
08/14/1992 Mbole, Uganda – 48 stones fell, roofs damaged, boy injured.

Rational Db8
Reply to  Gamecock
May 12, 2015 9:04 pm

Also, fyi for anyone interested – and I think this is really fascinating myself, considering they’re using detectors for the Nuclear Test Ban treaty to pick up and record thermonuclear sized blasts from incoming meteors:
Asteroid Impact More Common Than Most Think, But Is Anyone Doing Anything About It? [VIDEO]

About once every six months, high in the atmosphere, an asteroid traveling thousands of miles per hour descends on the planet. These rocks almost never reach the ground in tact, though, because their route through the vacuum of space is disturbed by the accumulation of air particles. Friction builds, and in a blinding flash they explode with the force of a nuclear bomb.
Recently, a group called the B612 Foundation, which is led by retired astronauts, held a press conference in Seattle to plug their organization’s mission: defending the planet against asteroids large enough to cause damage on Earth. They were armed with new findings from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which monitors the globe for nuclear bomb detonations. Between 2000 and 2013, the group’s sensors detected 26 nuclear-sized blips all over the planet, from the coast of Antarctica to central California. [emphasis added]
But none of them were bombs. Asteroids ranging from 1-20 kilotons pelt the Earth at random. Only one, the Chelyabinsk Meteor of February 2013, actually did any terrestrial damage where more than 1,000 were injured by the shockwave. Experts estimate that an asteroid large enough to destroy a city collides with our planet about once every 100 years. Ed Lu, co-founder of the B612 Foundation, cautions that this is merely an average. “Because we don’t know where or when the next major impact will occur,” he says, “the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid has been blind luck.”…

Reply to  joel
May 11, 2015 10:23 pm

The stars are an unlikely destination.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
May 12, 2015 4:01 am

Gully Foyle is my name
Terra is my nation
Deep space my dwelling place
The stars my destination.

Reply to  M Simon
May 15, 2015 1:03 pm

Alas, I believe Gully never made it to the stars, iirc.

george e. smith
Reply to  jorgekafkazar
May 12, 2015 11:17 am

“””””…..Just because we have been lucky in the past is not evidence that we will always be lucky……”””””
So what is your evidence that “we have been lucky in the past.”
We will get hit or not, whenever the laws of physics say we will get hit or not, and not until they do or not.
And luck has nothing to do with it.

Reply to  george e. smith
May 15, 2015 1:02 pm

The evidence? the number of comets and asteroids out there compared to the number that have actually hit us recently. What you claim would be true only if the orbits of these objects were known. They’re definitely not.

Rational Db8
Reply to  joel
May 12, 2015 6:19 pm

Stock market crashing again almost certainly the most likely. Also nasty, however, would be a Carrington type EMP from the sun, or someone deciding to pop off a high altitude burst above the nation to hit us (or the UK) with a devastating EMP, or perhaps even less likely, Yellowstone caldera popping off. THAT would be very very nasty, as would any major EMP regardless of source.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  joel
May 12, 2015 6:21 pm

Not, it’s not safe to say that. The resulting impact leaves a ~6km diameter crater assuming landfall. At a distance of 50km the worst effect is probably the ejecta and overpressure wave of ~9″ and 5psi, respectively. Beyond 100km you’re looking at predominantly just a seismic event of 6.7. If that impact were to hit in a remote area like siberia, it would be a bad day for those close to it and aside from the news cycle the rest of the planet would be worried about the latest celebrity wardrobe malfunction within a couple of months at most.
BTW, this impact calculator is very cool.

Someone who can do math
May 11, 2015 6:26 pm

link says 6 million miles (not 3 million kilometers). That is about 24 times the earth-moon distance…yawn

Reply to  Someone who can do math
May 11, 2015 8:34 pm

I don’t even see it mentioned on’s PHA chart.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
May 11, 2015 10:18 pm

I was going to comment the same thing. Maybe spaceweather does not consider it a “close” object.

May 11, 2015 6:30 pm

The Younger Dryas cosmic impact hypothesis has been thoroughly discredited, several times. Please stop.
YD was almost certainly caused by Laurentide meltwater Lake Agassiz bursting through glacial ice dams along what is now the St. Laurence seaway, causing a millennial melt water pulse into the North Atlantic, interrupting its thermohaline circulation. I researched this extensively for months before deciding the geological evidence was too convincing to merit a questioning essay in ebook Blowing Smoke.
An issue all skeptics should contemplate is how skeptical to become. In the extreme, do not become legitimately criticized mere silly total deniers. See my just past guest essay here for examples.
Win climate wars, not climate skirmishes. Fight the climate consensus smartly. Please.

Reply to  ristvan
May 12, 2015 1:17 am

Unfortunately the Lake Agassiz theory has been as thoroughly discredited as the impact theory. There never was any “bursting through glacial dams” and at the time of the Younger Dryas Lake Agassiz drained southwards to the Gulf of Mexico. It did drain briefly to the St Lawrence c. 4000 years later which may have caused the “8.2 KA Event” in the North Atlantic.
It is weird how many of these erroneous and seemingly ineradicable factoids there are in ‘climate science’

Steve Garcia
Reply to  tty
May 12, 2015 3:58 pm

tty –
For once I agree with you. Even Wally Broecker, father of the oceanic conveyor belt has admitted that the Lake Agassiz ice dam outburst could not have caused the Younger Dryas stadial (ice period).
Oh, the global warmists loved that ice dam idea, because it allowed them to think that the same sort of oceanic conveyor shutdown could do it again.

Reply to  ristvan
May 12, 2015 11:12 am

You are a few years out of date, aren’t you? You getting your information from 2009-2010?

Steve Garcia
Reply to  Kuldebar
May 12, 2015 3:58 pm


May 11, 2015 6:31 pm

There is no evidence for a comet strike at the Younger Dryas.

Reply to  sturgishooper
May 11, 2015 6:32 pm

Or asteroid.

Reply to  sturgishooper
May 12, 2015 10:23 am

So the YDB black layer, which covered FOUR continents and the 50 million sq kms with carbon nanodiamonds, does not exist?
You know, the key piece of evidence for the YDB impact hypothosis?
Claiming there is “no evidence” of the YDB impact hypothosis amounts to fabulism.
Hell, you YDB impact theory so-called ‘Sckeptics’ have repeatedly and publically claimed multiple impact fireballs were impossible on Earth — The SL-9 multi-impact event at Jupiter is explained as “unique” — until September of 2014, when this thing called “reality” rain on your parade.
In this case quite literally —
Four Large Fireball Events over USA
September 24th, 2014
Four large unique fireball events were reported to the AMS last night.
•Event #2305-2014 was seen at approximately 1:11 local time (EDT) in FL and GA.
•Event #2306-2014 – Over 420 witnesses from IL, IN, MI, OH and WI reported a bright fireball over Michigan around 21:55 local time.
•Event #2307-2014 – 30 witnesses from TN, AR, AL, IL, MS, MO and KY reported seeing a fireball over Tennessee at approximately 20:30 local time
•Event #2308-2014 – 42 witnesses in CT, PA, NY, NJ, MA and MD reported seeing a bright fireball in North Easter Pennsylvania near 20:47 local time.
Proof positive of closely spaced multiple impacts on North America can happen at any time is empirically provided.
The only questions left at hand are how often and how large, not whether or not multiple asteroid impacts can happen.

george e. smith
Reply to  sturgishooper
May 12, 2015 11:24 am

“””””…..The SL-9 multi-impact event at Jupiter is explained as “unique” …..”””””
@Trent Telenko.
ALL events are unique.
There simply is no evidence that ANY event ever happened twice. The concept is absurd.
Each event typically happens at a specific location at a specific time.
For an event to happen twice, it would have to happen twice at the same location and at the same time, or it would not be the same event, and there would be no way to tell if it was a single event, or two simultaneous co-located events, or a hundred of them happening together.
Like I said; the concept is absurd.

Reply to  sturgishooper
May 12, 2015 11:41 am

Rristvan, The Younger Dryas event is one of those things that has become contentious. Therefore studies may not be very independent and the authors may be trying to prove their point rather than to determine the truth. Which studies are those that the authors are trying to prove their point and how can someone determine this? The only answer is to read multiple studies and try to determine who was more thorough, who provides their data.
You chose to believe the hypothesis that the Younger Dryas was almost certainly caused by Lake Agassiz bursting through glacial ice dams into the North Atlantic. This hypothesis however, is one that based on the evidence has been shown to be impossible. As someone else already pointed out, “There never was any “bursting through glacial dams” and at the time of the Younger Dryas Lake Agassiz drained southwards to the Gulf of Mexico. It did drain briefly to the St Lawrence c. 4000 years later which may have caused the “8.2 KA Event” in the North Atlantic.”
The issue with asteroids is that there are many types of asteroids with various potential compositions. Depending on the composition of the asteroid, they may break apart quickly as they enter the earth’s atmosphere fragmenting such that a fairly large asteroid such as one that might have caused the Younger Dryas event could when the earth is glaciated, mainly impacted into miles thick glacier before striking the underlying earth. Thus, there are many theories of what kind of debris field there would be, where the debris would be and etc. Given these facts, it is very difficult to disprove the asteroid impact theory.
Then there are studies such as this one: contain quite a bit of evidence in support of the asteroid theory.

Joe Wooten
Reply to  sturgishooper
May 12, 2015 12:46 pm

The Carolina Bays…….

Steve Garcia
Reply to  sturgishooper
May 12, 2015 4:05 pm

@BobG –
Hahaha – That 2012 paper is exactly the kind of papers that “doesn’t exist” according to the YDB impact skeptics. THAT is how they can run around denying the hypothesis – by pretending that the evidence was never found, never lab tested, never properly dated, never submitted to any journals, and never accepted and published in journals.
IOW, they believe everything the kibitzing skeptics say and nothing of what the original scientists say who actually did the research.

Steve Garcia
Reply to  sturgishooper
May 14, 2015 10:56 am

BobG : “Rristvan, The Younger Dryas event is one of those things that has become contentious. Therefore studies may not be very independent and the authors may be trying to prove their point rather than to determine the truth. Which studies are those that the authors are trying to prove their point and how can someone determine this? The only answer is to read multiple studies and try to determine who was more thorough, who provides their data.”
Exactly. It is contentious. Mostly, IMHO, because a small group of anti-catastrophe scientists take the stand that the original researchers were non-professional scientists who did inadequate research – even though every paper has had tons of lab results included and showed all their work. At VERY few times have the skeptics actually tried to refute the lab results or impute that the lab work was done wrong, other than to say something was “misinterpreted”. The skeptic papers show that the real issue is that they interpret those lab results differently – and usually without even doing their own lab work or field work. There seems to be no doubt that their are markers for impacts – markers that in all previous finds were readily accepted as pointing at a likely impact.
Had these markers – impactites – been accepted as straightforwardly as other instances, the YD researchers would long ago have been able to move on and LOOK for an impact site and LOOK for what might have been MORE locations with such evidence. Instead, the YD researchers feel the need to answer the sniping, kibitzing, arm-chair-science papers of their skeptics. And the YD researchers go round and round in this seemingly interminable dance.
There is no difficulty for geologists and astronomers, etc., to simply tentatively accept that certain impact markers might point to such an impact at that time, and then to simply help find such an impact site or to get out of the way and let the evidence be found. Like the Lake Agassiz “affair”, as the evidence accumulated, there would have either been a preponderance of supporting evidence or the opposite. The scientists by accepting that it MIGHT be true, research could go forward.
Your comment shows a very calm, reasoned, objective approach which would be a sound beginning for any inquiry into any possible past naturally occurring event or process.
As to whose studies are “more thorough” and “who provides their data”, I DO invite you to go read the various papers. And unlike sturgishooper, you seem like the type who will actually look at the original researchers’ rebuttals to the skeptics’ assertions of inadequate, which I think fully address the skeptics’ claims.
I would point you to at a lesser study, – “Species Response to the Theorized Clovis Comet Impact at Sheriden Cave, Ohio” Tankersley

The age of the Clovis assemblage was determined by direct AMS radiocarbon dating of purified collagen extracted from one of the two bone points. The calibrated 14C age was 13,000 to 12,900 RCYBP at two
standard deviations (Waters et al. 2009).

This puts the “assemblage” in the study at exactly the time of the YDB, RCYBP. The paper, in 2009, used IntCal09; the current IntCal13 would show the dates 100 years younger – at 12,900-12,800. van Hoesel in 2013 made a huge deal out of a 100-year variance, which disappeared when the newer C14 calibration curves came out, and which she misinterpreted.

The charcoal layer contains above-background levels of carbon spherules, 148/kg by weight and 100 microns to 1 mm in size, as well as magnetic grains, 2.5 g/kg by weight and up to 300 microns in size, magnetic microspherules, more than 100/kg by weight and 20 to 100 microns in size, nanometer-sized diamonds, 400 ppb by weight 0.5 microns to 0.5 mm in size, and Lonsdaleite, a hexagonal nanodiamond polymorph found at other postulated Clovis comet impact sites across North America (Kennett et al. 2009). Lonsdaleite, nanodiamonds,
magnetic microspherules, magnetic grains, and carbon spherules were absent in layers above and below the Clovis assemblage.

Lonsdaelite, in particular, is ALWAYS seen as 100% evidence of an impact. Except in this case. The energies needed to make hexagonal nano-diamonds is just too high for any terrestrial process to create it. Yet the skeptics continually deny (literally) the presence lonsdaelite evidence. And basically without anything but their interpretations versus the YD researcher’s lab results.
Which is more sound? We will know someday.

Reply to  sturgishooper
May 11, 2015 6:46 pm

Actually, there’s enough evidence (in the form of tektites and shocked quartz deposits) to speculate, but not enough to be certain.

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 11, 2015 7:13 pm

No, there isn’t any evidence. There are no tektites or shocked quartz deposits. It’s a fantasy, completely devoid of physical evidence and with all the evidence in the world against it. The YD was no different from the other rapid cooling events which preceded and followed it, not from similar events during prior glacial-interglacial transitions.
From 2015, but comparable studies are available for the whole lifetime of this science fiction “hypothesis”:
The Younger Dryas impact hypothesis suggests that multiple airbursts or extraterrestrial impacts occurring at the end of the Allerød interstadial resulted in the Younger Dryas cold period. So far, no reproducible, diagnostic evidence has, however, been reported. Quartz grains containing planar deformation features (known as shocked quartz grains), are considered a reliable indicator for the occurrence of an extraterrestrial impact when found in a geological setting. Although alleged shocked quartz grains have been reported at a possible Allerød-Younger Dryas boundary layer in Venezuela, the identification of shocked quartz in this layer is ambiguous. To test whether shocked quartz is indeed present in the proposed impact layer, we investigated the quartz fraction of multiple Allerød-Younger Dryas boundary layers from Europe and North America, where proposed impact markers have been reported. Grains were analyzed using a combination of light and electron microscopy techniques. All samples contained a variable amount of quartz grains with (sub)planar microstructures, often tectonic deformation lamellae. A total of one quartz grain containing planar deformation features was found in our samples. This shocked quartz grain comes from the Usselo palaeosol at Geldrop Aalsterhut, the Netherlands. Scanning electron microscopy cathodoluminescence imaging and transmission electron microscopy imaging, however, show that the planar deformation features in this grain are healed and thus likely to be older than the Allerød-Younger Dryas boundary. We suggest that this grain was possibly eroded from an older crater or distal ejecta layer and later redeposited in the European sandbelt. The single shocked quartz grain at this moment thus cannot be used to support the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis.

Steve Garcia
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 5:31 pm

sturgishooper –
Tektites? Shocked quartz?
What a JOKE. NO ONE on the pro-YDB side of this has ever asserted taht tektites are found. And as to shocked quartz…
I just did a fairly extensive perusal of one claim of the recent van Hoesel et al 2015 paper that you linked to.
Do you really and truly actually listen to these YDB skeptic and not laugh?
Or do you have no filter? Anything a YDB skeptic says you BELIEVE?
Van Hoesel claimed that at a site named Geldrop-Aalsterhut in the Netherlands the YDB team claimed to have found “shocked quartz”.
That is ONE WEIRD assertion on her part. The claim happens to be completely untrue.
Only ONE pro-YDB paper even investigated Geldrop-Aalsterhut, so it made it kind of easy to crap all over her assertion (lie). That paper is here:
Go ahead. GO to Google Scholar and search for “Geldrop-Aalsterhut Dryas”. Almost all of the HITS are van Hoesel papers or articles. Only ONE is a paper that is pro-YDIH.
And what does that pro-YDIH paper say about finding SHOCKED QUARTZ there at Geldrop-Aalsterhut?
Not one thing.
(I LOVE THIS, pointing out the lies of some scientists… I really DO.)
There are 3 mentions in the paper about ANY kind of quartz. And none of those talk about shocked quartz. One says that “quartz, rutile, and zircon” were minerals encountered. One mention said they never found any melted quartz. One said that their protocols for identifying NDs [nanodiamonds] did “not remove non-ND crystals, including quartz, rutile and zircon”. The fourth mention was in the title of a reference.
The word “shocked”? It showed up in a reference, one only having to do with limestone.
Is Annaliese van Hoesel also going to accuse the YDB team of falsely claiming to have found “shocked limestone? “Shocked rutile”? “Shocked zircon”?
Her 2015 paper is pretty much garbage.
She put up a straw man – claiming that they said something that they never said. And then wrote up a paper castigating them for their failure to find the thing that they never even discussed.
Someone needs to pull her “Sciencing” licence.
And YOU – what are you doing? Listening to such lies and drivel?

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 5:40 pm

Sorry, but I had to laugh at loud at your comment about tektites. The very comment to which you are replying and to which I replied stated this:
May 11, 2015 at 6:46 pm
Actually, there’s enough evidence (in the form of tektites and shocked quartz deposits) to speculate, but not enough to be certain.”
Yes, I have an active filter, which is why I concluded that the YDIH is anti-scientific garbage, completely lacking in the least shred of supporting physical evidence. Only in this age of science corrupted by the baleful influence of consensus “climate science” could this unscientific conjecture, ie evidence free assertion, have gotten as much ink as it has.

Steve Garcia
Reply to  sturgishooper
May 12, 2015 3:52 pm

Trent Telenko –
Evidently sturgishooper has been listening to those who put their fingers in their ears and mumble “Lalalalalalalala. . . ” every time they hear of lab evidence of an impact at 12,800 years ago. When someone doesn’t WANT evidence to be there, they assert that the evidence isn’t really evidence. This allows them to further assert that, “Since we haven’t heard of any evidence to that effect, the evidence doesn’t exist.”
It’s all in how good one’s ear plugs are.
And then sturgishooper reads those skeptics’ negative assertions and doesn’t bother looking into it himself. Which allows HIM to argue that such evidence doesn’t exist.
How would I know this? Because if sturgishooper actually read the YDB papers thoroughly, he would see that the evidence is quite clear. And if he also was to read the rebuttal letters and papers to the skeptics, he would know the same things. There is not ONE point that the YDB skeptics have made that has stood up against the rebuttals.

Reply to  Steve Garcia
May 12, 2015 4:16 pm

Black mats are not extraterrestrial in origin and occur at many intervals:
I’ve worked on the Atacama beds myself.
Neither are the so-called “nanodiamonds”:
“WASHINGTON—New findings challenge a theory that a meteor explosion or impact thousands of years ago caused catastrophic fires over much of North America and Europe and triggered an abrupt global cooling period, called the Younger Dryas. Whereas proponents of the theory have offered “carbonaceous spherules” and nanodiamonds—both of which they claimed were formed by intense heat—as evidence of the impact, a new study concludes that those supposed clues are nothing more than fossilized balls of fungus, charcoal, and fecal pellets. Moreover, these naturally-occurring organic materials, some of which had likely been subjected to normal cycles of wildfires, date from a period of thousands of years both before and after the time that the Younger Dryas period began—further suggesting that there was no sudden impact event.”
Not even YDIH advocates claim the Carolina Bays as evidence anymore.
You’ve got it backwards. Every claim of “evidence” made by advocates of the impact hypothesis has been shown false, which is why their story keeps changing. As I said, there is zero valid evidence of an impact at the YD, and all the evidence in the world against it, to include the megafaunal extinctions so absurdly attributed to the non-event.

Reply to  Steve Garcia
May 12, 2015 4:36 pm

May 12, 2015 at 11:41 am
Sorry, Bob, I overlooked your comment.
Here are just a few of the things wrong with Kinzie, et al:
Here is a good summary of the total lack of evidence for the impact hypothesis from the same year in which Kinzie, et al rehashed their already thoroughly debunked fantasy:
The YD was no different from all the other sudden cooling events in the Pleistocene.

Reply to  Steve Garcia
May 12, 2015 4:43 pm

From Holliday, et al, Journal of Quaternary Science, 8 Aug 2014:
“In this paper we review the evidence for the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis (YDIH), which proposes that at ∼12.9k cal a BP North America, South America, Europe and the Middle East were subjected to some sort of extraterrestrial event. This purported event is proposed as a catastrophic process responsible for: terminal Pleistocene environmental changes (onset of YD cooling, continent-scale wildfires); extinction of late Pleistocene mammals; and demise of the Clovis ‘culture’ in North America, the earliest well-documented, continent-scale settlement of the region. The basic physics in the YDIH is not in accord with the physics of impacts nor the basic laws of physics. No YD boundary (YDB) crater, craters or other direct indicators of an impact are known. Age control is weak to non-existent at 26 of the 29 localities claimed to have evidence for the YDIH. Attempts to reproduce the results of physical and geochemical analyses used to support the YDIH have failed or show that many indicators are not unique to an impact nor to ∼12.9k cal a BP. The depositional environments of purported indicators at most sites tend to concentrate particulate matter and probably created many ‘YDB zones’. Geomorphic, stratigraphic and fire records show no evidence of any sort of catastrophic changes in the environment at or immediately following the YDB. Late Pleistocene extinctions varied in time and across space. Archeological data provide no indication of population decline, demographic collapse or major adaptive shifts at or just after ∼12.9 ka. The data and the hypotheses generated by YDIH proponents are contradictory, inconsistent and incoherent.”

Steve Garcia
Reply to  Steve Garcia
May 12, 2015 5:43 pm

sturgishooper – Once again, you’ve got your signals crossed.
No one on ANY side – except you, asserting that someone ELSE said it – ever claimed at all that all black mats are ET in origin.
Almost 100% of the material in the YDB black mat sites is terrestrial in origin. Just like when any meteor hits and make a crater. What is the ratio of the ejecta – ET-vs-target materials? Something on the order of 1:250. That is like 99.75% target material – dirt and rock and whatever else was in the ground. And then it all gets spread around and carried off in the wind… So if van Hoesel can’t find it, she should ask for lessons in how they do their protocols.
That was the problem with some of the early skeptics – they couldn’t even follow protocol instructions, so they kept getting it wrong. And when they GOT it wrong, they claimed the error was by the other side. Hahahahahahaha what a bunch of numb nuts.
As to this:
“Steve, You’ve got it backwards. Every claim of “evidence” made by advocates of the impact hypothesis has been shown false”
No, YOU have it backward. If all you did was to follow the skeptics initial claims, you missed the rebuttals, dude. ALL of the skeptics’ claims have been fully rebutted. And I am NOT going to go look them all up for you. You seem to like finding stuff and pasting in links, so go find them yourself.

Reply to  Steve Garcia
May 12, 2015 6:02 pm

The point is that advocates of your ludicrous hypothesis claim that the iridium in the mats is ET. Study after study shows that it is not. Since you persist in missing the point, further discussion is pointless.
It’s pointless to try to discuss science with a true believer, who for whatever reason is not amenable to reason or fact. Perhaps if you had ever studied geology your attitude might be more scientific.

Steve Garcia
Reply to  Steve Garcia
May 13, 2015 10:19 pm

sturgishooper –
Hahahaha – You, like Holliday and the sloppy skeptics pick one thing – in this case you point at iridium – and claim that it was never found, while ignoring the REST of the materials – the carbon spherules, lonsdaelite, etc.
In fact, iridium was only found at a few sites, and NONE of the gallery of markers was found at every site. NO ONE calimed that the nanodiamonds themselves were ET in origin. Nanodiamonds aren’t out in space. They are formed by the energy of an impact, and if you worked on them in the Atacama (which I strongly doubt) you would know this.
Peter Schultz specifically found the evidence of hexagonal nanodiamonds very early on, and the skeptics avoid mentioning that like it was the plague. They talk about cubic NDs and N-diamonds, but never hexagonals.
Like pack wolves, the skeptics try to pick off what they see as the weakest member of the impact materials and separate it from the rest of the herd, hoping that no one will notice that they are sweeping the other 90% of the LAB results under the carpet.
Todd Surovell was so bad at taking samples, completely blowing off the protocols and methodologies. His supposed “attempts at replication” were a joke. He sampled sediment layers in the wrong locations and taking FAR to thick of samples, which watered down his so-called “replication” samples. It was some of the worst science possible – yet he got top billing in the early going as the number one skeptic shooting down the YDIH.
If someone in a junior high science class can’t even follow protocols, he would flunk Lab 101. That is the level of non-science Surovell brought to the table. All of his efforts were thoroughly shot down in DYB team rebuttal papers – the ones you failed to read.
I won’t even go into the me-me-me efforts of Marc Boslough – which all ended up almost entirely touting himself as the solver of the Libyan desert glass.puzzle. Yeah, him and 5 other hypotheses. But that had nothing to do with the YDB – yet he is listed as a fellow skeptic.
sturgishooper – All you’ve done here is PARROT what the skeptics claimed, including pasting in links. Where re your OWN thoughts? You didn’t do any due diligence/b> by trying to see if the skeptics’ papers were rebutted. Here is a clue: They WERE.

May 11, 2015 6:34 pm

One of the first video games was a small triangle, your “space ship”, that had to shoot a big asteroid, and then all the bits and pieces of asteroid, or you got hit and had to pay another quarter.
The taxman will just use this asteroid as an excuse to tax us another quarter.

May 11, 2015 6:36 pm

Actually, its a “near hit”
I “nearly missed ya” means I barely hit you.
I “nearly hit ya” means I barely missed you.

Steve P
Reply to  Black Flag®
May 11, 2015 7:20 pm

Actually, a miss is a miss, near or not.
You could have a close miss, a far miss, or even a wild miss, but they are all misses.
The word near can be used as adverb, preposition, adjective, and verb, but nearly is a different word that is used only as an adverb with the meaning almost.

Reply to  Steve P
May 12, 2015 3:15 am

I hardly agree.

Reply to  Steve P
May 12, 2015 4:06 am

A miss or a Mrs.? It was close.

Bubba Cow
May 11, 2015 6:38 pm

one of my all time favorite Onion covers:

May 11, 2015 6:38 pm

So we are almost doomed?

Reply to  RoHa
May 11, 2015 7:34 pm

It’s almost worse than we thought!

Winnipeg Boy
Reply to  RoHa
May 12, 2015 8:52 am

Ron White: I almost died once. Actually, i didn’t even get hurt. Near miss plane thing.

Steve Garcia
Reply to  RoHa
May 12, 2015 5:44 pm

We might be . . . . . . . ALMOST WARM!

May 11, 2015 6:41 pm

Velikovsky anyone? Funny how this is now accepted as a distinct possibility. In 1950, Velikovsky had the audacity to suggest that such collisions were not only possible, they had already happened repeatedly in the past and that the last near collision that caused global catastrophes and species extinctions had been recorded by the ancients around the world. He was laughed at, mocked and ridiculed mercilessly for suggesting such a thing and for arguing that the solar system wasn’t necessarily as stable as the astronomers at the time thought it was. Now it’s quite fashionable. Odd how fashions change in science.

Reply to  KiwiHeretic
May 11, 2015 7:16 pm

Good for you for bringing up Velikovsky. You points are spot on.
By the way, if you have not seen it before, you might appreciate the following video by David Talbott who carries on with Velikovsky’s ideas, relating comparative mythology with possible instabilities in the solar system. At a minimum, Talbott’s ideas are very creative. (I believe he has a new updated version of this coming out in the near future.)
Symbols of an Alien Sky

Reply to  KiwiHeretic
May 11, 2015 7:21 pm

Excellent points.
You might appreciate this video by David Talbott. He extends Velikovsky’s ideas by attempting to relate the overlapping symbols of comparative mythology with possible celestial phenomena seen by ancients, caused by instabilities in the planetary configurations. At a minimum, it’s very creative.
Symbols of an Alien Sky

Reply to  Max Photon
May 11, 2015 7:57 pm

Sorry for the double posts. I thought WP ate both, … but there they are.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 11, 2015 8:09 pm

Thanks for these posts. I’m very familiar with Talbot et al. In fact I am coming to the end of a new book project on Velikovsky – his ideas, the ugly controversy that followed and the latest developments, discoveries etc. that support his case; with a chapter on Talbot, Cardona and others. The book is tentatively titled “On the Shoulders of Heretics” which might give you an idea of its angle.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 11, 2015 8:33 pm

and remember how they all laughed at von Daniken.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 11, 2015 10:44 pm

Thanks for these posts. I am very familiar with Talbott et al. My main interest is in Velikovsky, but Talbott, Cardona and others certainly have some interesting takes on the theme. I’m not quite sure what to make of some of it though.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 13, 2015 1:22 am

Max I went to episode 2 but got po’d when the video used the shuttle beak up it really turned me off. For the rest it just undermined the credibility for something i thought was a viable theory.

Reply to  KiwiHeretic
May 11, 2015 7:35 pm

Do a little basic mental arithmetic. Anything which has already hit can’t hit again. Anything on a near earth orbit which comes around every 4500 years has already come past a million times and hasn’t hit yet. Most of the hitters already did it a long time ago.
Anything on a near earth orbit which comes around every million years or so and hasn’t hit yet has come past about 4500 times. The million to one chance of it coming around this year is less than your chance of winning the lottery. The chances it will hit are even less than that.
(I picked 4500 million years because that seems to be about when enough of the stuff flying around had hit to form a solid ball recognisable as the Earth.)

Reply to  gnome
May 11, 2015 8:32 pm

Anything on a near earth orbit which comes around every million years or so and hasn’t hit yet has come past about 4500 times. The million to one chance of it coming around this year is less than your chance of winning the lottery. The chances it will hit are even less than that.

Throw your math on the trash heap. Do you really think that asteroids, especially large ones can come into proximity with other bodies in the solar system and not have their subsequent orbits not [affected]?

Reply to  gnome
May 11, 2015 8:36 pm

I would respectfully have to agree.

Boulder Skeptic
Reply to  gnome
May 12, 2015 12:16 am

Sorry gnome, I do this orbital mechanics thing as part of my job. Orbits of solar system meteoroid objects are perturbed every time they have a close approach to another large body (i.e. planets).
For example, we have sent a number of space probes to outer planets by targeting a close approach to inner (including Earth) and outer planets and getting a “free gravity assist” from that large body to significantly change the probe’s orbit. A pass at about 8 times the moon’s distance from Earth is close enough to perturb the orbit of this asteroid slightly. So it won’t cross our path the same way next time. Same thing applies when an asteroid swings close to Venus, Mars, Jupiter (especially), Saturn, etc.
We’re getting better at finding these dark bodies, but we will have a hit. It’s a matter of time. Small chance of it happening in my lifetime (not losing any sleep over it), but not zero. A hit of anything sizable (a couple hundred meters across) will cause far more destruction/extinctions/climate change than even the worst 95%-confidence addition of CO2-induced heating could cause over centuries at the rate we’re going (but let’s keep spending tens of $billions each year to try to prevent CAGW, which present evidence seems to show will not happen and that I believe we have practically zero control over anyway…).

Reply to  gnome
May 12, 2015 12:22 am

The big danger is the Oort Cloud, with perhaps 6,000,000,000,000 objects in it. Lucky we have a moon. From the looks of it, it’s intercepted a lot of space trash, so far, and may still be doing so, without our knowledge. Our survival may depend on it at any time. Perturbation of those distant comets is what we oort to be worrying about.

Reply to  gnome
May 12, 2015 1:27 am

Unfortunately asteroid orbits are not completely stable. They are perturbed by the major planets and there are occasionally collisions between asteroids which shatter into completely new orbits. The result is that asteroids are gradually being “swept up” by the planets, resulting in all those craters.
And then there are occasional bursts of comets coming in from the Oort cloud after being perturbed by stars passing “close” by. These are also either “swept up” or gradually disintegrate into meteor swarms.
The frequency of large impacts seems to have been fairly constant during the Phanerozoic, though with occasional “bursts”, e. g. at the Eocene/Oligocene border c. 40 million years ago.

Steve Garcia
Reply to  gnome
May 12, 2015 5:48 pm

You’ve obviously never heard of Earth-crossing Apollo asteroids. At last count 1400 of them pass close enough to warrant attention. And the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 was one of them. Boy, THAT one shouldn’t have been here! It should have hit a few million years ago. Right?

Gary Hladik
Reply to  KiwiHeretic
May 11, 2015 8:15 pm

Sagan on Velikovsky:

Reply to  Gary Hladik
May 12, 2015 4:43 pm

Sagan was more of a science populist, a science celebrity, than a real scientist. He basked in public adoration, the media idolised him, but was no match for Velikovsky in open debate as was seen during the 1974 AAAS Symposium in San Francisco. He liked the limelight too much.

Reply to  Gary Hladik
May 12, 2015 6:15 pm

Thanks Gary, I probably watched this many years ago but had forgotten about it. A very pertinent message for today’s “settled science” on “climate change”.

Gary Hladik
Reply to  Gary Hladik
May 12, 2015 9:19 pm

KiwiHeretic, Carl Sagan had a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics, was a full professor at Cornell University, published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers, and–unfortunately for Professor Velikovsky–was an acknowledged pioneer and expert on the atmosphere of Venus. He was indeed a “showman”, but if that disqualifies him, remember that Velikovsky was more than his equal in “showmanship”, if not in popularity.
I’ve read about the 1974 AAAS debate, and my impression is that Sagan, despite some irrelevant arguments, utterly demolished his opponent. I note that six decades after publication of Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky’s Earth/Venus/Mars encounters, his “physics”, and his “revised” ancient chronology remain fringe science at best.
I also notice that your reply to the Sagan video was long on ad hominem and short on facts, exactly the kind of thing Sagan criticized his fellow scientists for in the video. 🙂

Reply to  KiwiHeretic
May 11, 2015 10:07 pm

Well Max, per the video the claim is that these “planets” were unmoving in the sky. Now this seems as unlikely as such massive objects being tossed around the solar system yet not causing total and permanent orbital chaos. However there ARE objects that could remain stationary, have no planetary level gravitational affect, show plasma displays and also be quite large and those could have been a fleet of alien spaceships with a the purpose of studying life forms here.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  KiwiHeretic
May 11, 2015 11:51 pm

Agree Kiwi. Thanks for the comment. I have read theories of asteroids & comments coming close to or hitting the earth. But never a mention of Velikovsky although they sound as if this is their origin.

Paul Westhaver
Reply to  KiwiHeretic
May 12, 2015 6:57 am

Speaking of audacity, you may want to add a chapter on Georges Henri Lemaitre who, in 1923 postulated, based on the General Theory of Relativity, that the universe came from a [singularity]. He was shunned mocked and his work was suppressed and stolen by the big names in cosmology.
But now we know, the “scientific” egomaniacal b@stards, including Fred Hoyle were 100% wrong and LeMaitre was right.
Now, it is as if the Big Bang theory was always obvious. Nothing to see here… move along, move along.
So much for open minded scientists.

george e. smith
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
May 12, 2015 11:35 am

It actually was a very tiny bang. You could put a trillion of them into a thimble and still have almost as much room left over.
So it eventually has gotten to be a pretty big affair. Biggest damn thing we know about, but in the first 10^-43 seconds, it was small potatoes.

Reply to  Paul Westhaver
May 12, 2015 6:53 pm

Thanks for this tip Paul. I hadn’t thought to include a passage or two to Lemaitre but I think I will now thanks to you. He is a classic case of a ‘heretic’ ahead of his time, later to be lionized as a genius. As I believe will be the case for Velikovsky some time in the future, but that will take another generation. My old classics lecturer Dr. Johnny Moffatt who was a strong supporter of Velikovsky, reckoned it would take fifty years before Velikovsky is accepted by the establishment. That was back in the eighties. I think it will take double that because of the recalcitrance and stubbornness inherent in orthodox and establishment thinking.

Curious George
May 11, 2015 6:43 pm

Even at ten times the distance of the Moon, it will cause an extinction of at least 10 species. (Prof. P.E, “False Alarm”, private communication).

May 11, 2015 6:46 pm

This asteroid doesn’t appear on

Reply to  HalC
May 11, 2015 10:11 pm

Yes it does.

May 11, 2015 6:52 pm

Calm down kidz, here’s a nice JPL orbitisl body simulator of this baby:

Reply to  Yirgach
May 11, 2015 7:37 pm

Yes, there you can see (but note the date):
2015-May-17 08:34 (UT) Nominal Distance: 0.16133 (AU). 5381 Sekhmet (1991 JY)
Also, lists two other smaller visitors on March 17.

May 11, 2015 6:54 pm

Experts warn a collision would trigger an explosion similar to millions of megatons of TNT

Could that be any worse than the years of accumulated damage from global warming with its “4 Hiroshima atomic bombs worth of heat every second”? /Sarc off

Reply to  Louis
May 11, 2015 6:57 pm


george e. smith
Reply to  Louis
May 11, 2015 7:34 pm

Not to worry; on average, the Hiroshima nuclear explosion didn’t do very much damage; and the record of comet and asteroid hits shows that on average they don’t do much damage either.
So if I was you, I wouldn’t worry about it; on average !

May 11, 2015 6:57 pm

Given a choice between a catastrophic collision with an asteroid, and more Oreskes selfies, I’ll take my chances with the former.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 11, 2015 7:20 pm

I know who that is. It isn’t Oreskes. It’s Mr. Selfie: Carlos Danger.

Reply to  dbstealey
May 11, 2015 7:37 pm

I prefer to think it’s oreskes. Boy is she ugly!

george e. smith
Reply to  dbstealey
May 11, 2015 7:39 pm

I think Oreskes was the brother of Electra; and damn near as destructive.

Reply to  dbstealey
May 11, 2015 7:42 pm
Reply to  dbstealey
May 12, 2015 12:26 am

Oh, George!

May 11, 2015 6:57 pm

Somebody may have already pointed this out, but the Manhattan Project took place during WWII, in the 1940’s.
I think moving a large asteroid would actually be much more challenging than the Manhattan Project for many reasons.

Rob Mooij
Reply to  hunter
May 11, 2015 7:12 pm

I just finished reading a (unsparingly technical) book about the Orion project and indeed engineers in the early sixties came very close to realizing nuclear propelled rockets. Only fear of radioactive contamination of the atmosphere stopped this project. These rockets are more efficient the larger the payload and the equivalent of whole city blocks could easily be lifted into space. Such capacity is what you need to counter a threat of a mile wide rock hitting earth and it seems worth the effort.

Reply to  Rob Mooij
May 11, 2015 7:21 pm

The NASA money squandered on GISS’ Hansen and Schmidt instigated global warming scam could have been far better spent on researching anti-bolide missions, or better yet, not spent at all.
I’m glad to see that Congress is at last considering getting NASA out of the “climate change” business and concentrating all the lunacy in NOAA, as I advocated to my members of Congress long ago.

george e. smith
Reply to  Rob Mooij
May 11, 2015 7:47 pm

I came close to being the first fisherman to land a 200 pound Tarpon (Megalops Atlanticus (I think)) with a fly rod, at Homosassa Florida. Had it rolled over alongside the boat, ready to gaff in about 20 minutes, on a 15# test tippet.
Coming close; no matter how close, still gets you no cigar .
I busted it off, because of a wind knot in the tippet. No cigar. Same goes for asteroids.

Reply to  Rob Mooij
May 11, 2015 10:09 pm

In case anyone is wondering what a 200 lb (90 kg) tarpon looks like …

May 11, 2015 7:09 pm

“far too close for comfort”
I disagree. I am very comfortable with that distance.
In fact, I will be sleeping like a baby, not worried in the slightest bit.
Who are the bed-wetters who are losing sleep and find this to be uncomfortable?

May 11, 2015 7:21 pm

A lightning bolt from earth would almost certainly destroy this asteroid before it the planet, the same way one destroyed the recent meteor over Russia.

Reply to  Mark
May 11, 2015 7:40 pm

That’s interesting. See my comment above about Velikovsky. I’m currently writing a book about this very issue and the Velikovsky controversy.

May 11, 2015 7:23 pm

“Such a ship could be built in a year or two, if it was a priority, and would be more than capable of pushing a dangerous asteroid into a different orbit.”
I think not.
Not with Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck on the outs again.

May 11, 2015 7:27 pm

I’m going to sit outside on the front lawn and watch it go by with my unaided eyes. Or maybe not.

Paul Westhaver
May 11, 2015 7:29 pm

According to CNN talking head. asteroids are caused by global warming. Bill Nye will exploit this one … too.
Remember this?

Hot under the collar
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
May 12, 2015 1:56 am

I was going to make some sarcastic comment about the usual suspects probably blaming it on global warming, then I saw your post.
When they said “the science is settled” I wish they had made it clear that this was the science of the asylum.

May 11, 2015 7:36 pm

Joke mode on/ darn it all, there goes the rapture for another cycle, you heathen are safe for now, joke mode off/

May 11, 2015 8:03 pm

There is a far larger rock only 400 000 km from us: the moon. I would not call an asteroid passing outside the obit of the moon “a close call” at 1 000 000 km

Gary Hladik
May 11, 2015 8:03 pm

“Worried astronomers warned 1999 FN53, which is an eighth of the size of Mount Everest, will skim the Earth in THREE DAYS.
A collision would be nothing short of catastrophic triggering mass destruction, earthquakes and global extinction.”
I know exactly how they feel. Yesterday I was driving north on the highway at about 65 miles per hour (about 105 kph) when I noticed an oncoming car in the southbound lane. I nearly panicked, realizing that if the driver swerved into my lane, the subsequent collision at a combined speed of 130 mph (209 kph) would likely WIPE OUT ALL LIFE IN MY CAR!. Fortunately the other driver maintained his course and safely passed by. I breathed a sigh of relief.
But just as my breathing and heart rate were returning to normal, I spotted ANOTHER car in the southbound lane…

May 11, 2015 8:04 pm

Sure hope they got the trajectory right. Oh and, for the love of God, STOP THE FRACKING!

masInt branch 4 C3I in is
May 11, 2015 8:11 pm

Whaaaoooo !
Here we go!
The Lost Missile! 1959 SciFi at its best.

Reply to  masInt branch 4 C3I in is
May 11, 2015 8:31 pm

Ooh, I think she may have found the missile after all.

Reply to  Menicholas
May 11, 2015 11:56 pm

And it’s a big one, that would bring tears to your eyes !!

Mike McMillan
Reply to  masInt branch 4 C3I in is
May 12, 2015 12:14 am

They put all the credits at the beginning of the movie. I guess they didn’t think anyone would stick around the theatre long enough to see them at the end.

Adam from Kansas
May 11, 2015 8:21 pm

Isn’t the Express one of those hyper hyperbolic papers that uses as many loaded words as possible to give the impression that some form of the apocalypse is coming?
For years, they’ve been proclaiming the idea of mass suffering and death as the UK gets crushed by an Arctic invasion (something which turns out to be all hype even amid the recent NH winters). The paper lives off of hype and will take it as far as humanly possible to score ratings.

May 11, 2015 8:22 pm

I check the NASA JPL asteroid close approach pages every day and have done so for years. This asteroid barely registered in my conscience as I skimmed over the list:
As you can see, there are no fewer than 5 similarly sized asteroids coming as close or closer over 10 days in June this year (15th-25th). Although this may seem apocalyptic, the chances of a hit from any of the rocks in the list is zero. The problem is with the small to medium sized ones like the one that fell in Russia. They are difficult to see in advance and could destroy a city. As for any big ones that haven’t been found yet (we’ve found over 90% of 1km+ rocks) the chances of a hit are very small- once every few million years. It’s nevertheless something we should address and are addressing. Although it’s possible for an undiscovered, large rock to appear one month out from hitting us, it’s highly improbable. As for 1999FN53, the chance is and always was zero.
The Express is definitely not the place to go for your science information. The article is brimming with hyperbole and inaccuracies. I also suspect that poor astronomer was quoted completely out of context. I’m quite sure he’s just as phlegmatic about it as I am. If he’s qualified to speak on the subject, he’d know that there are no known threats for the next 200 years (apart from a chance in millions that Apophis may hit in 2036 due to possibly going through an 800m wide keyhole on its close approach in 2029).
While 1999FN53 is big, there are plenty of big ones that come way closer. The actual distance of 1999FN53 at close approach is 26.4 lunar distances which is 10 million km or 6 million miles as the Express article states. If the Earth were a large grapefruit, this rock would be passing us 100 metres away- hardly “grazing” past.
As for scientists knowing about this close approach, they would have had it worked out accurately within a week or two of discovering it back in 1999. Their calculations would have been to within a few thousand km and a few minutes of the actual close approach time and distance. Their current figure is accurate to within 15km and a few seconds. That’s an accuracy of 0.67 mm over 100 metres for our grapefruit analogy. These are clever people who know exactly what they’re doing. They work according to a very well-established protocol for cataloging all asteroids they discover, their orbits and their potential threat (any potential threat goes straight on the Torino scale).
Furthermore, the astronomers would have known within days or even hours, back in 1999 whether the asteroid would be on a collision course within the next two centuries (including every conceivable perturbation imaginable from all the planets, large asteroids, solar photon pressure etc). This is because 10 million km is a country mile when it comes to working out close approaches over 16 years. They may have been wondering for the first couple or three hours of observations when the ‘observation arc’ was rather less accurate. Once they had more obs over a few weeks and several tens of millions of miles of its orbit, the orbit would have been accurate to within a few thousand km if not a few hundred or tens of km. This is because, being large, it can be observed over a long observation arc (assuming it passes close enough to be followed for a while, which was the case in 1999).
As for other inaccuracies in the Express article, they said it was “going round the Earth” implying it’s in orbit around the Earth. It’s orbiting the sun and passing by at a great distance. They also imply that there could have been a last-minute perturbation that could have put it on a collision course. This is absolutely impossible and really very irresponsible of them. The Torino scale would have any hazardous asteroid and all its potential perturbations fully characterised. I see comments and tweets from genuinely worried people regarding this sort of scare.
The speed of 34,000 mph (about 15km per second) seems about right. That would be the relative speed if it was on a collision course with the Earth. Our gravity would accelerate it to 19.2 km per second, exactly the same speed as the Chelyabinsk meteor. Not a nice thought but an extremely small chance for a big rock.
Where the astronomers do get it wrong is in assuming that all asteroids are orbiting the sun in splendid isolation. In fact there are plenty of reasons why some could be shedding fragments that orbit in their wake for tens of thousands of years. This is why I check the JPL close approach pages. I check the ephemerides of the closest ones and work out when the Earth will be going through the hypothesised meteor stream or ‘rock train’. I then pass it on to a clever friend who refines it on a computer model. Any meteor related to that rock train has to come from a tiny point (radiant) in space, arrive with a specific, precise trajectory angle for any given location on the Earth and have a particular atmospheric velocity. We have so far related the San Antonio meteor (Nov 2014) to 2014 UA176; the Colorado meteor (March 11th 2015) to 2015ET; and Spain meteor (Sept 2014) to 2014 RC. This means that watching the predicted radiant could alert us to meteors before they arrive, including their ETA and location.
One commenter asked re the asteroid’s gravity affecting us. Although gravity acts over huge distances and for any size of object, the effect is so close to zero, the only honest answer is effectively “zero effect”. Even on the surface of the asteroid, if 1.2 km across, it’s about 1/20,000th that of the Earth’s gravity.

Reply to  Scute
May 11, 2015 8:49 pm

Thanks, you’re comments were interesting.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 11, 2015 9:59 pm

oops … your
Damn apostrophic climate change.

Reply to  Scute
May 11, 2015 10:19 pm

Thanx Scute, received and understood.

Reply to  Scute
May 11, 2015 10:20 pm

It was closer the first time it passed then the predicted distance of this pass. Its orbital parameters have been calculated with a high level of confidence so its predicted path is likely to be accurate.

Infrequent commenter
Reply to  Scute
May 12, 2015 12:17 am

I want to underscore Scute’s remarks, all of which check out completely and are salient and on point, by sharing my opinion, fwiw, that this post is so bad that it harms the site.
Ideally you should actually skip the post text and go straight to Scute’s comment for the real story on this “event.” But another approach would be to fisk the original article, and this is what some of you might need if, unfortunately, you bothered to read it.

“On this occasion a collision seems unlikely – but it doesn’t take much of an orbital perturbation to put an Earth grazer onto a collision course.”

It’s not just unlikely, it is 100% completely ruled out. The amount of preturbation needed to get this rock to hit earth on a near timescale is not only huge, it’d have to be amazingly precise. Worse, the major sources of preturbation (planets) are already factored in, in the short term. Your only hope to preturb this big guy into our planet would have been to strap some major propulsion onto that sucker. This is really terrible, dishonest, shoddy writing – to imply there is some risk when actually the orbit is well determined on the timescale in question. Shameful, cheap, unscientific, amateurish, attention getting. You can do better.

“A collision of 1999 FN53 with Earth, especially an ocean strike, would be nothing short of catastrophic. The fire and blast alone would likely kill millions. It would cause massive earthquakes across the world. An ocean strike would raise mountain size tsunamis which would smash coastal cities thousands of miles from the strike.”

Completely deflating this sensational picture is the knowledge that NONE OF THIS WILL HAPPEN. You spilled a lot of words on your effort to imitate a crappy british tabloid, so it would have taken only a handful more words to make it clear that we KNOW the rock is not about to hit us. Not think. KNOW. Now, 10k years from now is another issue. Probably won’t hit us around then either, but the odds start going way up from zero because of imprecision in the preturbations mentioned above. For today, though, they are zero. ZERO. ZERO. The fact that you managed to go on and on about earthquakes and tsunamis without making the ZERO CHANCE part clear shows that you are suited for a career in a supermarket celebrity tabloid and not suitable for writing respectable articles for the WUWT blog.
Am I mad? Yes. I like this blog. I’ve been lurking for years. Probably post less than once a year, but I read way more often than that. You’re ruining it with your checkout stand tabloid garbage. STOP IT.
To the proprietors, I hope you can take my harsh criticism in the spirit it was intended. It comes from someone who appreciates the more quality articles on this site. If we get more trash like this article, it will regrettably cause laymen like me to doubt the quality of the more thoughtful and measured articles that are also posted here.
To the author, take a good look at yourself. You know exactly what you’ve done here. And it’s garbage. You owe us an apology and a detailed list of retractions and corrections, with no hedging, hemming or hawing. You were wrong.

Tom Crozier
Reply to  Infrequent commenter
May 12, 2015 11:04 am

“…..this post is so bad that it harms the site.”
100% agreed. It’s embarrassing. I’m wondering if it was written by an imposter. The probability of that is certainly higher than of 1999 FN53 striking Earth on Thursday.

Reply to  Scute
May 12, 2015 4:28 am

Thanks Scute. I guess now I won’t need to use up all of my vacation days before it passes.

Reply to  Scute
May 12, 2015 2:18 pm

The problem isn’t the big rocks that we see coming. They would be catastrophic if they hit, because they’re so big, but most of them miss.
The problem is the littler rocks that aren’t big enough to see before they hit us. There was a smallish (car-sized?) rock that was observed a whole 18 hours before it impacted over Africa; that was about 5 years ago, and I believe that’s still the only “observed before impact” meteoroid.

Reply to  Scute
May 13, 2015 7:41 am

On the NASA website, they list some probabilities of an asteroid/meteor strike.
“A working group chaired by Dr. David Morrison, NASA Ames Research Center, estimates that there are some 2,100 such asteroids larger than 1 kilometer and perhaps 320,000 larger than 100 meters, the size that caused the Tunguska event and the Arizona Meteor Crater. …
“NASA knows of no asteroid or comet currently on a collision course with Earth, so the probability of a major collision is quite small. In fact, as best as we can tell, no large object is likely to strike the Earth any time in the next several hundred years.”
The person at NASA that wrote the text on the probability of an asteroid strike was not a technical writer. I think that he meant that none of the larger objects around 1 kilometer in size are currently on a collision course with earth as best they can see for the next several hundred years. I don’t think they have any great certainty about the smaller objects especially out to several hundred years.
The caveat seems to be: “In addition there are many comets in the 1-10 kilometer class, 15 of them in short-period orbits that pass inside the Earth’s orbit, and an unknown number of long-period comets. Virtually any short-period comet among the 100 or so not currently coming near the Earth could become dangerous after a close passage by Jupiter.”
The close passage by Jupiter could change the orbit to make objects more dangerous. However, I believe if it happened, and became more dangerous we would have several years or decades to prepare for the object.

May 11, 2015 8:24 pm

moving asteriods isnt as easy as getting funding for alarmist climate research.

May 11, 2015 8:27 pm
Reply to  LarryFine
May 11, 2015 8:53 pm

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll spend the rest of the day sitting in a small boat, drinking beer, and telling dirty jokes.

Reply to  Max Photon
May 12, 2015 8:24 am


May 11, 2015 8:44 pm

Here’s a scary fact for you “cosmic collisionists” to use: On May 12, 2015 there were 1577 potentially hazardous asteroids. (from

May 11, 2015 8:54 pm

Interesting information however, I don’t worry about these things. Why? Because if one is on a collision path, and lets face it, there *ARE* likely many potential objects (We only have to look at the surface of the Moon to see that) and one will strike at some point in time, we will almost certainly not be able to do anything about it other than try to survive the event.

Reply to  Patrick
May 12, 2015 7:09 am

When important people suddenly leave for their bunkers…
I would find it difficult to believe that they would warn the general public of a real pending impact. Guaranteed near misses and Global Warming are reported instead.
That’s why MSM is paid the big bucks:
Insight – U.S. media CEOs are top paid even in year when stock prices lagged
Investors in some top U.S. media companies have had a rough ride as their shares have lagged the rest of the market. You just wouldn’t know it if you looked at the bank accounts of their top executives.
The CEOs of 11 major media companies were given median compensation of $32.9 million for 2014, much higher than any other industry group in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, according to regulatory filings posted in the first four months of this year and analyzed by executive pay consulting firm Farient Advisors for Reuters. Food & staples retailers came in a distant second at $24.5 million.
It is set to be the seventh successive year media industry executives come out on top – figures before 2008 are not comparable because of the way pensions and stock options are disclosed.
In many of the years, media company stocks were outperforming the broader market as revenue and earnings surged. Last year, though, the median total return of the 11 companies was 10.76 percent against 13.69 percent for the S&P 500 as a whole.
The weakness reflects more challenging times in much of the business, with advertising growth stuttering and the increasing amounts of video delivered and viewed over the Internet upsetting a cozy business model for program makers and the traditional pay-TV distributers, such as cable companies.
Many companies justify big awards by stressing difficulty retaining top talent in a competitive market.
But some compensation experts say there is another explanation – a number of the major media companies are controlled by top executives and their families, which means boards don’t have to worry much about objections from other shareholders. CEOs at companies with less family influence benefit anyway because boards tend to benchmark pay against their major rivals.
Robert McCormick, chief policy officer of proxy adviser Glass Lewis & Co, said the controlling shareholders “can pay whatever they want,” and disregard views of other shareholders.
For example, Sumner Redstone, 91, controls about 80 percent of the voting shares in CBS (CBS.N) and Viacom (VIAB.O) through a holding company.
So far this year, the CEOs of Discovery Communications Inc (DISCA.O), CBS, Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and Viacom accounted for the first, third, fourth and fifth spots among the five highest-paid CEOs across the S&P 500. The only non-media CEO in that group was Steven Mollenkopf of telecom technology company Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), who was second.
Often in the media industry, “the pay is not reflecting the performance,” said Michael McCauley, senior officer for the Florida State Board of Administration, which manages pension assets for Florida state and other local authority employees, and holds shares in all four of these media companies…

May 11, 2015 9:00 pm

Well they should be able to see and track it, but if it is coming from the sun, then there are problems. Unfortunately I hope it does not hit the moon.

May 11, 2015 10:20 pm

Wow, the international Snidely Whiplash possibilities are endless. So we see a big rock coming, we build a sci-fi starship, we push the rock out of harm’s way, and then ‘we’ now have a great honking starship capable of shuttling mile-wide rocks out of, and you know just possibly back into, earth orbit. If you get the drift. I suggest we use the U.N. to organize the effort — what could possibly go wrong? :-/

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Notanist
May 11, 2015 11:08 pm

Armageddon, starring Bruce Willis, a top 50 dumbest Sci Fi movies, evah.

D. Cohen
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 12, 2015 1:33 am

That’s right, you’ll have a new weapons technology more dangerous than H bombs without all that nasty fallout to worry about. Something that few people urging us to hurry up and learn to protect earth against this sort of thing ever stop to consider. On the other hand, it would provide a potent motive for the colonization of the solar system as different groups tried to gain and maintain military control of large rocks in strategic orbits.

Reply to  Notanist
May 12, 2015 9:19 am

The concept has been done; “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, by Heinlein, and “The Mote In God’s Eye”, by Larry Niven.

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 3:13 pm

For Niven (and Pournelle) don’t you mean “Lucifer’s Hammer”?

Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 3:45 pm

lowercasefred writes: “For Niven (and Pournelle) don’t you mean “Lucifer’s Hammer”?”
Actually, “Lucifer’s Hammer” would be the “natural impact” story. In “The Mote In God’s Eye”, the Moties had (during various phases of their long history) moved all of the asteroids into orbits that would never hit the planet – except during their wars, in which case the asteroids were aimed to impact surface targets.

Steve Garcia
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 7:36 pm

Ah, yes, “The Mote in God’s Eye”. One of the top 5 Sci-Fi books of all time.

Steve Garcia
Reply to  kenwd0elq
May 12, 2015 7:41 pm

But don’t forget “Ringworld” series in which they had a world the entire orbital length of a planet, many, many thousands of miles wide, plus cannons to shoot down any asteroids and comets – and intruders. And full-sized maps of Earth and Mars, laid out flat. And they had sunscreens like banners, tied together in their own orbits, to simulate day and night.

May 11, 2015 10:41 pm

asybot: “and remember how they all laughed at von Daniken.” Yes, they did. And with good reason!

Reply to  KiwiHeretic
May 12, 2015 12:31 am

And con Daniken laughed all the way to the bank.

Tom Crozier
Reply to  Monckton of Brenchley
May 12, 2015 3:44 pm

He sure got my attention when I was a 13 year old boy living in Peru surrounded by Inca ruins, as he did that of my 13 year old amigos. My dad, a leading engineer in his field, just shook his head and said “What a crock!”
He’d get a big kick out of this post, at least Von Dainiken’s ideas impressed 13 year olds. Most 13 year olds these days have the ability to investigate the facts, and say “What a crock!” for themselves.

May 11, 2015 11:23 pm

Man if they were to be an asteroid heading towards earth that will kill 1.5billon people then they should send a missile towards the asteroid and that would split it up into Small pieces but before it even hit earth it going to compact together which make it mostly impossible to kill someone and if it doest that it sucks for that guy

Just an engineer
Reply to  Alex castillo
May 12, 2015 6:31 am

Would you rather stand in front of a lousy marksman who has a rifle or would you prefer he had a shotgun?

Reply to  Just an engineer
May 12, 2015 7:55 am

We wouldn’t be doing this unless we were sure the asteroid were going to hit the earth. So a more accurate analogy would be standing in front of an expert marksman with a rifle or a shotgun.

Reply to  Just an engineer
May 12, 2015 7:56 am

How about, would you rather stand in front of an expert marksman armed with a rifle, or one armed with a shotgun loaded with birdshot.

Steve Garcia
Reply to  Just an engineer
May 12, 2015 8:04 pm

If we can fragmentize a very large object and turn it into objects the size of Tunguska (~120 meters) or Chelyabinsk (~50 meters), I’d take that any day. Even if they were 200 meters or 400 meters, they’d kill cities, perhaps, but they wouldn’t take out all of humanity.
I choose the shotgun. We honestly don’t have a better capability right now.
Just thinking out loud:
I’d think about doing it with 2 or more simultaneous H-bombs on either side of the object, to maximize the concussive force – timed just right (whichever we can determine that would be). It might be better to stagger the timing a few seconds or minutes, in order to double or triple whammy the original fragments. Why put all your marbles on one H-bomb? And doing only one would possibly leave it mostly in two halves – which WOULD be perhaps doubly dangerous. But 2 or 3 of them babies could do a rock crusher job on a 1000 meter object. Gravel is MUCH better than a boulder.
If 10,000 Chelyabinsks came in, mostly all we’d have is about 10 to 20 million broken windows, based on 2013. All Chelyabinsk-sized objects would burn up in the atmosphere. That is something e need to have learned from that experience: Medium-to-small is GOOD.
If a few ended up BIGGER than Tunguska-sized, a few towns or cities might get a good whack, and maybe a few million would die. But the vast majority of humans and cities would survive. Anything Tunguska and smaller is essentially like a big tornado or strong hurricane in its damage potential. Yes, Tunguska took out X number of pine trees. But so do big hurricanes.
I see that all as far more survivable than one 1000 meter one like went into Jupiter in 1994.
It’d be LOUD and for some a helluva light show, but we’d almost all live to laugh about it. And for each of those 10,000 fragments, there’d be a million or so harmless shooting stars. That would be a sight.
A 1000 meter one would be well within the impact area of an H-bomb, so getting the destructive energy where we wanted it wouldn’t be a problem.

Leo Smith
May 12, 2015 12:01 am

Years ago three slightly stoned young me were playing with a home computer, and decided to program it to simulate a solar system by placing random objects of random masses and randob velocities in close proximity and plotting the results on a pixel basis.
After several hours of plotting various starting points a few things became apparent
– the solar system is the way it is because its the only remotely stable configuration.Big sun in the middle everything else orbiting it in more or less circular orbits with a few massively elliptical ones that cannot be high mass, or they fling the planets out of orbit.
– and small stuff that comes on on steeply elliptical orbits tends to either get captured or flung out of orbit altogether. Or both, one after the other.
-actual collisions are so rare as to be most uninteresting.
– ‘comets’ that passed close to planets were deviated enough not to come back on the same path at all.
-Velikovsky could have been right. Some configurations remained stable before two inner planets got involved and moved each other to new orbits or out of the whole system.
– inner planet orbits were not constant with time, The many body problem made their orbits strange attractors. The deviations were not much, but showed even on the low resolution screen.
I’ve not bothered much about stuff hitting the earth since.
Its very low probability and the chances of something big enough being exactly in the right place after many billions of years is very very low. if its as close as three million I doubt it will ever come back either. Thats gonna bend its orbit a fair bit – and it doesn’t take much.

May 12, 2015 12:06 am

Presumably in the past there was a lot more debris whizzing about which has since tidied itself up but if we are in dwarf Sagittarius galaxy merging with Milky Way then there may be more randomness in future ?

May 12, 2015 12:51 am

Great timing!!

May 12, 2015 1:07 am

This is the Daily Express for goodness sake. Not known for the accuracy of it’s reporting any scientific issue. It breathlessly forecasts disastrous weather every other day which turns out to be nonsense and makes much of it’s money from it’s porn empire. Reporting this about as valid as quoting the Daily Mail or National Enquirer. I’m sure you can do better than this.

Bloke down the pub
May 12, 2015 1:26 am

A collision would be nothing short of catastrophic triggering mass destruction, earthquakes and global extinction.
Experts warn a collision would trigger an explosion similar to millions of megatons of TNT and would be capable of killing 1.5 billion people.

So which is it? If population of the world is over 7 billion then 1.5 billion is only a fraction of that so there wouldn’t be extinction. Not to say that the place wouldn’t need a lick of paint afterwards of course.

May 12, 2015 2:55 am

So, we have death and destruction on the way? No need for spending money on climate change, then!

May 12, 2015 3:37 am

A meteorite that size would not have to hit the earth. If it just skimmed the atmosphere at the North or south pole it would be enough to melt the ice at that pole, a truly catastrophic “global warming” event.
The issue though is what catastrophic event captures our imagination regardless of the level of risk and the subsequent reaction. Below is list of catastrophic scenarios, the probability of occurring, and the reaction.
Pandemic – likely – Systems put in place to mitigate.
Nuclear war – unlikely due to MAD – apparently no concerns
Meteorite strike – low probability – Meteorite monitoring system put in place some decades ago
Catastrophic Natural climate change – possible but unlikely – who knows, who cares, blame humanity
Catastrophic anthropogenic climate change – possible but unlikely – make energy more expensive, subvert the worlds economy, damage poor and middle class standard of living
The reaction to anthropogenic climate change obviously stands out as being bizarrely out of whack with the risk.

Reply to  Alx
May 12, 2015 5:20 am

you missed off;
Alien invasion – unlikely but still hopeful.
The second coming, the resurrection of the dead and life eternal – highly unlikely but who knows ?

Reply to  Alx
May 12, 2015 8:13 am

An asteroid skimming the atmosphere could not melt the polar ice caps. First off the earth’s atmosphere is pretty opaque to infra-red. Secondly it would only be hot for a few seconds, not enough time to melt more than the top few millimeters, if that much.
It’s possible that the shock wave could fracture the ice, however experiments done in the last century, trying to blow up ice bergs showed that ice has an amazing ability to absorb shockwaves.
Regardless, melting of the arctic ice cap would have next to no impact on climate and no impact at all on sea levels.

Bohdan Burban
Reply to  Alx
May 12, 2015 10:28 am

“A meteorite that size would not have to hit the earth. If it just skimmed the atmosphere at the North or south pole it would be enough to melt the ice at that pole, a truly catastrophic “global warming” event.”
Ever tried the delicacy called “Deep Fried Ice Cream” that appears on some Chinese restaurant menus?

May 12, 2015 3:57 am

So many more near misses than when I was a kid. I wonder what the greedy, hateful ones did to destroy our grandchildren’s future thus?

Reply to  Bernie
May 12, 2015 6:03 am


So many more near misses than when I was a kid. I wonder …

The number is (probably) not increasing, but our ability to detect the near-misses, and then publicize the near-miss!, has gotten much better. With no knowledge of a miss, and no publicity that it went by, it never happened.

Just an engineer
Reply to  Bernie
May 12, 2015 6:35 am

It’s called the “alarm of discovery”, was always there, now you know, that’s all.

May 12, 2015 5:01 am

Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

The rock with our name on it is the real threat to humanity. There really isn’t anything else with the potential of extincting us.
This rock doesn’t actually seem worth worrying about. It buzzes earth every 16 years, and this year is one of its closer approaches. It has been out there a long time, and therein lies the worry. We spotted this on only its last close approach 16 years ago. It has been this close several times before. We can tell where this one will be for hundreds of years, but what about the ones we haven’t spotted yet?
It is sad that we are spending billions on trying to control the weather, something we will never be able to do (the energy requirements are just too great). We could spend a fraction of that and perhaps be ready when we notice the rock that will intersect our planet.

May 12, 2015 5:36 am

“near miss” = a hit, right?? Shouldn’t the title be “Near collision…”

May 12, 2015 5:40 am

This was remarkably non-noteworthy for a WUWT article. A close approach of 26.5 lunar distances?
2004 BL86 was 3.1 lunar distances from Earth on January 26th, that’s more impressive. See

michael hart
May 12, 2015 6:09 am

Promoting asteroid-near-miss-disaster-scenarios certainly might help wean catastrophists off global warming. But the potential downside is that they might conjure up an even more economically destructive solution than the current favorites.
Unlikely, sure. But they shouldn’t be encouraged to try.

G. Karst
May 12, 2015 6:10 am

Why was this object/target not selected for the current mission “Rosetta”? Seems we would have learned something of immediate importance and would have been easier to complete! GK

Reply to  G. Karst
May 12, 2015 8:15 am

It’s closer, but the relative velocities are much higher.

May 12, 2015 6:22 am

Hillary and Bill already have tickets. It only took five extra speech events and some line breaking to get it done. It’s was all in the email server but those were deleted first.

May 12, 2015 7:04 am

What I wonder is, if we knew an asteroid was about to hit the earth, why would anyone want to stop it?

Tom J
May 12, 2015 7:09 am

I don’t think we should be so arrogant as to assume we can or should do anything whatsoever to stop a big asteroid from slamming into the Earth. The only way to stop it would be technology, right? Haven’t we damaged the planet enough with technology? And, what technology would we use? Big O2 and kerosene fueled (fossil fueled) 1st and 2nd stage rockets belching copious amounts of CO2. And, how would those rockets destroy those asteroids? Nuclear weapons? Egads. Shouldn’t we just let nature take it’s course? I mean nature’s so beautiful, and tranquil, and caring. If nature wants to send us an asteroid who the hell are we to reject her bounty? Do we always have to meddle with nature? I’d say it’s time to stop meddling and just let that sucker slam us.
Ok, here’s the sarc tag. But, don’t be surprised if there’s plenty of people who genuinely think this way.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Tom J
May 12, 2015 12:18 pm

Perhaps we make windmills reversible with a tilt function then we could blow the asteroids away from us.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
May 12, 2015 4:00 pm

Patent that idea, quick.

May 12, 2015 7:11 am

I shall bring my umbrella on Thursday in case the calculated trajectory is inaccurate.

May 12, 2015 7:34 am

People are underestimating an asteroid so God should be sending a black hole next time 🙂

May 12, 2015 8:19 am
How about the one coming 1.1 LD from earth July 07 which is 68 m? This is very close. It is shown on the graph presented on this site. Scroll down for close asteroid encounters.

May 12, 2015 8:21 am

Why only a couple of days notice

Reply to  jesse
May 13, 2015 8:06 am

The Paris agenda build up takes precedence.

May 12, 2015 8:57 am

Which has a higher probability? A) discovery of a large new asteroid with a long periodicity on collision course, or B) return path of a known asteroid with a collision prediction

May 12, 2015 8:59 am

If one of these larger objects went on to strike something in the Asteroid Belt, would we even know about it?

Reply to  Resourceguy
May 12, 2015 9:24 am

Perhaps; astronomers have noted collision debris moving away from a parent object in the asteroid belt before, but at that distance, it has to be pretty big to be seen.

May 12, 2015 9:59 am

a space drive whose capabilities were straight out of science fiction
Jerry Pournelle described this very well in his novel "Footfall". However, there would probably be a number of protests from people saying that the Orion would increase global warming, or would possibly injure some backyard snail. I remain pessimistic that anything would get done before SMOD smashed into the Earth.

May 12, 2015 10:49 am

Okay, let’s say someone detects a large, new asteroid with a collision path. Do we head for higher ground, get a fire extinguisher, buy extra food and water bottles, or take in all the media coverage from a safe barricade position? I rather doubt public safety will be much of a priority toward the end.

May 12, 2015 11:19 am

Why is it that when I look up 1999 FN53, all I find is the express article, and another couple linking back to it?
Where is the actual data? Where is the real information? I don’t follow WUWT for recycled Weekly World News articles.

Tom Crozier
Reply to  TonyG
May 12, 2015 12:05 pm

Here it is. I think what happened was a slow news day and some wild imaginations trying to stir up hysteria over a non-existent threat.

Michael J. Dunn
May 12, 2015 1:15 pm

I notice above that someone posted a clip by Carl Sagan in connection with Immanuel Velikovsky. Sagan was a vehement critic of Velikovsky’s ideas, as reflected in Sagan’s book “Broca’s Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science.” I read his critique. Up to that point, I had somewhat admired Sagan, but the sophistic argumentation removed my respect for him. His vacuous “nuclear winter” theory cemented my opinion of him: self-important commenter, wrong on important questions.
Einstein and Velikovsky were friends, and (I understand) Einstein was found at his death with one of Velikovsky’s books on his nightstand. We don’t know everything, and Velikovsky was at least an interesting read.

Reply to  Michael J. Dunn
May 13, 2015 7:46 pm

He is indeed an interesting read if people could just get passed the undeserved stigma that he was burdened with at the hands of Sagan and others who went to extreme measures to destroy his reputation in the public eye. Sagan frequently took the moral high ground by claiming he was impartial and that Velikovsky deserved a fair hearing. Then he would do precisely the opposite and deliberately misrepresent what Velikovsky had said or written. This was a favourite tactic of many of Velikovsky’s earlier critics, especially Harlow Shapley and his student Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin; they would fabricate statements that Velikovsky had supposedly made and then attack the fabrications as absurd. Velikovsky would write a rebuttal and a complaint that he had been misquoted, but it wouldn’t be published. Shapley and others had never even read the material they were attacking so vehemently. Sagan was slightly different: he was just more sophisticated and subtle in creating his straw man arguments. He had to appear to be fair-minded and open to radical ideas (because he was a media darling), but he was in practice quite the opposite. Meanwhile, Velikovsky was still denied the necessary space to respond. The same occurred during the 1974 AAAS Symposium: he was denied the speaking time to respond. So there was no way Velikovsky could win as far as the media and the public were concerned. The public were left with the impression that he had been thoroughly discredited and “demolished”, a perception that still persists unfortunately.
The remedy of course is to read what he actually wrote. Not everything he wrote is correct I’m sure. He’s not infallible. But he certainly deserves more credit than he’s been hitherto given by establishment science.

May 12, 2015 1:34 pm

Next time it comes by we’ll mine it! “The High Frontier” is going to be built so let’s start with the relatively close to us space junk that might hit us anyway at some future point. Just park that sucker somewhere in a safe area of the solar system that isn’t the bottom of a gravitational well.

May 12, 2015 3:03 pm

“On this occasion a collision seems unlikely …”
If we can’t say it isn’t going to happen this time some people need to be out of a job.
I understand about “perturbations”, butterfly wings and all that, but this sucker is only three days out. Any applied force that would change its trajectory that much would blast it to little pieces.

Tom Crozier
Reply to  lowercasefred
May 12, 2015 3:54 pm

If you are talking the applied force necessary to make it hit us, I agree.

May 12, 2015 4:02 pm

I am making sure I have a threesome before This happens

May 12, 2015 4:04 pm

Hey moderators, I made several posts regarding that Velikovsky guy, but none of them ever showed up?
[Reply: There is nothing in the Spam folder. I don’t have the answer, maybe another mod does. -mod.]

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2015 9:31 pm

Dang, one of them was a rather longish post going over current theories regarding the formation of the solar system and the behaviors of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and I’m just to tired to type it all in again.

Gary Hladik
Reply to  MarkW
May 16, 2015 3:12 pm

MarkW, every comment I made on Velikovsky apparently spent hours in moderation, presumably because of the name and/or the lateness of the hour here in California.

May 12, 2015 5:32 pm

This isn’t a worry, but an impact by an object this size (590 to 1,300 meters diameter) at 13.8 km/sec is. It comes out to 10E20 joules of energy. That’s more than 500 times the size of the biggest nuclear explosion ever (the 55 megaton Tsar Bomba), and 10,000 times more than the meteor that made the Meteor Crater. The Tsar Bomba caused structural damage to buildings 1,000 kilometers away. An impact of a meteor like this would produce similar damage to anything within 8,000 kilometers.

May 12, 2015 8:12 pm

Someone needs to say that global warming is responsible for this close approach. When that happens, then I’ll know the whole thing is bogus.

John MIller
May 13, 2015 6:21 am

For comparison’s sake, how big was the asteroid that hit Earth 65 million years ago?

Reply to  John MIller
May 13, 2015 8:22 am

Best guesses – and they are ONLY guesses – would be 8-10 miles or so. Rocks that small don’t have a “diameter”, as such; they are probably pretty jagged and irregular. Think in terms of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko recently imaged by the Rosetta space probe.
The Alvarez hypothesis that an astronomical impact 65 million years ago killed off most of the dinosaurs (and about 60% of other large land animals) was quite controversial for about 30 years, but has fairly recently – and very reluctantly! – been widely accepted.
This object is perhaps one-eighth or one-tenth that size, and will be quite distant at CPA (closest point of approach). Any amateur astronomers looking to observe it will probably be out of luck; it would take a fairly large telescope to get more than a point image. And a telescope big enough to give you a good image probably can’t slew fast enough to track it. (I’d be happy to be wrong about that; it’s been a LONG time since my astronomy classes in college.)

Bohdan Burban
May 13, 2015 9:16 am

Remember the Chelyabinsk meteor even in Russia in 2013? The cognoscenti and paid help didn’t even see it coming because they were singularly focused on asteroid 2012 DA14.

May 13, 2015 4:17 pm

Gary Hladik says: “Carl Sagan had a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics, was a full professor at