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NASA Space Science

Astronomers Catch Asteroid In Near-Miss Video 120

Posted by samzenpus
from the skin-of-your-teeth dept.
ananyo writes in with a story about an asteroid near miss and a neat video taken by researchers. "It may look like a blurry blob, but researchers using the InfraRed Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Hawaii have posted a video of 2012 KT42 — a small asteroid that zipped past Earth at a distance of just three Earth radii on 29 May — the sixth closest encounter of any known asteroid. The bright asteroid appears fixed, while background stars zip past but in fact the asteroid is zipping along at 17 kilometres per second. 'You get the view of riding along with it,' says planetary scientist Richard Binzel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who led the observations. At its closest, the asteroid was at a distance between the orbit of the space station (about 1 Earth radii) and geosynchronous satellites (about 6 Earth radii)."
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Astronomers Catch Asteroid In Near-Miss Video

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  • Units and news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @05:47AM (#40396003)

    the asteroid was at a distance between the orbit of the space station (about 1 Earth radii) and geosynchronous satellites (about 6 Earth radii)."

    How dumb do you have to imagine your audience to create non-standard units on every piece of news?

    Also, with give such an imprecise distance as "between 6353km and 38118km"?

    At least speed came in km/s instead of Sheppeis per Tatum grid.

  • Re:Units and news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MacTO (1161105) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @06:58AM (#40396283)

    So do I get to choose a topic that is outside of your domain of knowledge, declare that any reasonable person should know it, then state that anyone who doesn't know it is stupid. Because that is pretty much what you're saying.

    Believe it or not, stuff like the radius of the earth, the length of the equator, or even the size of your own country is called trivia. Most people don't know them because they don't have an immediate bearing on their life. That doesn't make them stupid.

  • by CompComp (1838698) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @07:02AM (#40396295)
    The asteroid missed. It didn't miss by by a large amount- it came near. It was a near miss. It didn't hit, so it wasn't a "near hit" or a "far hit".
  • Re:Units and news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @07:09AM (#40396331)

    Believe it or not, stuff like the radius of the earth, the length of the equator, or even the size of your own country is called trivia. Most people don't know them because they don't have an immediate bearing on their life. That doesn't make them stupid.

    I disagree. Not knowing the radius of the earth to the point of not being able to visualize 10000km, which would essentially mean not knowing whether it's closer to 1000 or to 100000km (as with any better precision than that you already surpass the articles') isn't trivia for me.

    You scare me, btw. I now wonder what other things you consider to be trivial knowledge. The motion of the planets? What are those bright spots on the night sky? How does an engine work? How does a lightbulb work?

  • Re:Units and news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by danhuby (759002) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @07:13AM (#40396347) Homepage

    On the contrary, Earth radii is a useful unit when explaining how close something came to the earth. It helps to form a mental picture.

    For example, if you state that the moon is 384,400km from the earth, that doesn't really mean much - even if you know the diameter of the earth it's not as easy to form a mental picture as it is if you say that it is 62 Earth radii.

    Personally though I would have thought diameters would be better than radii? I.e. the moon is 31 Earth diameters (or simply 31 'Earths') away. (As a side note I think that is much further than most people would guess it is).

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