At the bowling alley tonight, after discussing the stock market for a while, my friend says to me, “Did you hear about the asteroid that’s supposed to hit us tomorrow?” I thought he was kidding. So I whipped out my shiny iPhone and checked to see what Google could tell me about this. To my surprise, it told me quite a bit. According to this story from the National Geographic Society,
A boulder-size asteroid discovered just a few hours ago will become a bright fireball when it enters Earth’s atmosphere at about 10:46 eastern time tonight, astronomers announced.
Holy carp! I added the boldface over the really important bits. Let’s read it together, shall we? A boulder-size asteroid, discovered just a few hours ago… That’s really unsettling. I thought we had satellites whose sole purpose was to watch for these things. Oh well, at least it’s a small one that will most likely burn up in the atmosphere. The article did go on to say
“If the object was ten times the size [as the one detected today], we would have picked it up several days in advance,” Spahr said.
“Then we could say, OK, you guys in Africa, pick up and move 50 miles [80 kilometers].”
And people think astronomers have no sense of humor.