Monday, January 01, 2007

Friday the 13th

On Friday the 13th, April 2029 the asteroid 2004 MN4 will make its closest approach to us and, despite the conspiracy theorists, it will miss the Earth by some 18,600 miles. However that's well inside geosynchronous orbit at 22,300 miles, and one of the closest approaches we've seen yet.

It certainly beats the approach of 2003 SQ222 in September 2003 which flew by at around 54,000 miles, or even 2004 FH which went by at 26,500 miles. Of course 2004 FH was a lot smaller than 2004 MN4, at around 30m, and we only spotted it the day before its closest approach which conisdering objects of 2004 MN4's size pass close by us every couple of year, mostly unnoticed, wasn't actually that bad. Of course sometimes we don't even spot them until after they go by...

It's always suprised me that the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact with Jupiter in 1994 didn't cause more comment. After all, what sensible species would watch a rock the size of a large mountain strike a nearby planet and then make only token gestures about doing anything about it?