Posts Tagged ‘Comet’

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will not impact Earth

January 11, 2013 Leave a comment

da14orbitWritten by Leslie Haze of

It seems these days any information regarding an announcement of a Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) coming remotely close to Earth spirals out of control within minutes on the internet by “doomsday prophets”. It is inevitable. What they fail to recognize or report are the facts or truth. No research is done and the doomsday prophets immediately go into internet viral mode. It is unfortunate for the doomsayers because it will only add one more failed prediction to their rapidly infinite list of crock predictions. These tiresome predictions only confirm their idiocy.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is a moderate asteroid classified 0 (No Hazard) on the Torino scale. This means no threat to Earth. This statement of course has no bearing for conspirators. This is not enough evidence to prove to someone who is unconvinced. Here I will explain how if the asteroid made impact with Earth, it would be so miniscule it would embarrass your dog. How could I possibly know this? Simple research of facts with side by side comparisons of similar asteroids. If you claim to be a “seeker of TRUTH” keep reading or you may stop now if you are looking for more hyped up disinformation.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 is only 45 meters or 148 feet in diameter. About the size of a commercial airliner. If the asteroid made it into Earth’s atmosphere it would most likely disintegrate some kilometers above the ground in a large explosion, which if it occurred over a populated area, would cause severe personal and structural damage. What does that mean? Anything 75 meters or less in diameter would not survive intact during its passage through our atmosphere.

Hypothetically let’s say DA14 miraculously didn’t disintegrate while entering the Earth’s atmosphere or was more than 75 meters in diameter. Let’s compare DA14 with the the Barringer Crater in Arizona. The meteorite that impacted here was a rare Type M made of metallic iron and was only 50 meters in diameter. This is the measurement after most of it burned up in the atmosphere. The Barringer Crater is 1,200 m (4,000 ft) in diameter, some 170 m deep (570 ft). Since the Barringer Crater meteorite was made of metallic iron (Type M) the impact caused far more damage because it was so heavy. Still it hardly produced an Extinction Level Event (ELE). (Please note there are 3 classifications of asteroids.)

It is estimated that more than 75% of all asteroids in the solar system are carbonaceous (Type C). Type C asteroids are asteroids made of carbonates. Composition is thought to be similar to the Sun, depleted in hydrogen, helium, and other volatiles. Type C asteroids inhabit the main belt’s outer regions, where as Type M is metallic Iron. The likelihood of DA14 being a Type M is 1% and the likelihood of a Type M actually impacting Earth makes the odds even less. On top of this, the likelihood of DA14 hitting a populated area makes it slim to none. You would have a better chance of winning the lottery. To give you a better understanding it would be like comparing a bowling ball (Type M) to a volleyball (Type C). Type C asteroids are much lighter and less destructive. Since Type C asteroids are less dense, they have a greater probability of breaking up into hundreds of pieces as they enter the atmosphere. Coincidentally the asteroid that created the Barringer Crater, even being a Type M, broke up before impact as well.

If asteroid DA14 were to enter Earth’s atmosphere on Feb 15, 2013 the explosion would produce the equivalent of 2.4 megatons of TNT. The asteroid that created the Barringer Crater had an impact energy estimated at about 10 megatons. That is about a 1/4 of what DA14 is estimated. Let’s say our calculations are off and it makes it into Earth’s atmosphere. Based on the facts given, DA14 would probably destroy a small neighborhood if it even were to explode above a populated area which is less likely than likely. The Earth is about 75% water and only 3% of land surface is covered by populated urban areas according to GRUMP data-sets. This means there is about a 3% chance the asteroid would explode near a populated area.

Based on all the facts given, even if DA14 was miraculously made of metallic iron we can see by comparing the Barringer Crater this would be the maximum damage. (Note: the Barringer Asteroid was much larger before it entered Earth’s atmosphere.) The damage it caused was nowhere near being an Extention Level Event. Sorry to disappoint anyone.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will also not be visible to the naked eye. Also according to NASA/JPL there is an estimated cumulative 0.033% risk (1 in 3,030) of 2012 DA14 impacting Earth sometime between 2026 and 2069. There is an estimated cumulative 0.00018% risk (1 in 556,000) of 2012 DA14 impacting Earth sometime between 2078 and 2111.

So, to sum up:

  • The asteroid will not impact Earth on February 15, 2013.
  • There is an estimated cumulative 0.00018% risk (1 in 556,000) of 2012 DA14 impacting Earth sometime between 2078 and 2111.
  • It is rated a low −5.78 on the Palermo Scale. (The risk is less than 1/500000 of the estimated risk of another similarly sized near earth asteroid hitting Earth during that time period. It is estimated that there are more than a million near-Earth asteroids smaller than 100 meters.)
  • It rates 0 (No Hazard) on the Torino scale.
  • If it were to hit Earth, it is estimated that it would produce the equivalent of 2.4 megatons of TNT. The Tunguska event has been estimated at 3−20 megatons.
  • In 2012 there was a cumulative 0.033% risk (1 in 3,030) of 2012 DA14 impacting Earth sometime between 2026 and 2069. In 2012 it was also known that the asteroid would pass no closer to Earth’s surface than 3.2 Earth radii.

Cosmophobia – An unreasoning fear of the cosmos

January 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Now that 2012 is behind us and all of the doomsday predictions of December 21st failed, Bill Hudson (a.k.a. ‘Astrogeek’) founder of the website has created a new site for 2013 and beyond. Dealing with yet more doomsday predictions that are already in full swing on numerous conspiracy websites, fears from comet impacts to rogue planets, this is Cosmophobia.What the heck is “Cosmophobia”? You may be wondering:

Astronomer David Morrison, Senior scientist with the NASA Lunar Science Institute, coined the term ‘cosmophobia’ after answering questions at the NASA “Ask an Astrobiologist” page. He defined it as “An unreasoning fear of the cosmos”, and created a short list of items that people are worried about.

A presentation at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s annual meeting in Tuscon in August 2012 was titled “Doomsday 2012 and Cosmophobia: Challenges and Opportunities for Science Communication” and is available for viewing via NASA’s website.

This site grew out of the 2012hoax website, at the end of 2012. It was felt that despite the fact that 2012 had ended without the various predictions of doom and destruction the resources gathered under the 2012hoax website would still be necessary in the future. Many of the predictions made about 2012 originated well before 2012, and would continue to be claimed well after 2012.

This site will deal with various claims that invoke ‘cosmophobia’, where the fear factor is pumped up in claims in order to make something fairly mundane sound sinister and threatening. In addition to claims made about astronomy, we will also look into claims touching on other fields of science such as geology and vulcanology. We will approach all claims from a perspective of skeptical inquiry. The claimant must provide evidence that supports their claims, and extraordinary claims will require extraordinary evidence.

The Cosmophobia website:
The Cosmophobia discussion board:
The Cosmophobia Facebook Group:


December 4, 2011 3 comments

UPDATE: Since the Comet Elenin Doomsday conspiracies fell to pieces, quite literally, Marshall Masters of has removed all Comet Elenin material from the front page of his website. No admissions of being wrong and no apologies for creating unnecessary fear mongering. But honestly, did you really expect anything else?

Well its been a while since we posted anything, but thought it best we show how wrong the doomcryers were, yet again! We’re going to keep this short and sweet so let’s get this nonsense out of the way. First let us go back a little to May 21 of this year; we had the false prophet Harold Camping predicting the end of the world, that was cancelled until October 21, well nothing happened, we’re still here! We had comet Honda pass the Earth on August 15, it didn’t hit us, we’re still here! We had doomcryers predicting that asteroid 2005 YU55 would smash into the Earth on November 8th, it didn’t, we’re still here! But now for the biggie, how can we forget comet Elenin, or the Brown Dwarf star Nibiru as many were saying. First of all it was exactly what it was said to be, a comet, and a wimpy comet at that. Yet we had the imbecile narcissist Marshall Masters saying otherwise. Anyway back in August comet Elenin started disintegrating and was reduced to nothing more than dust, Good’ol yowusa soon jumped on that news too. Well we didn’t pass through its debris, we didn’t all get poisioned and we didn’t all turn into zombies and start eating eachother! However we cannot forget the all important date regarding this comet, October 16, when the remnant of Elenin made its closest approach to Earth. It passed by at the precise distance NASA and the astronomers studying this object said it would, 0.2338 AU (34,980,000 km; 21,730,000 mi) and now Elenin, or rather what’s left of it, is on its way back out into deep space. There was a whole bunch more of predictions we could have covered here but quite frankly it wasn’t worth it, the outcome for all is the same, they failed. We’re now in December and 2012 is around the corner, the true great year for ‘EPIC FAILNESS!’ Who knows what other crackpot theories and predictions these lunatics will dig up as we go through the year. We really cannot wait for it to arrive and have fun once again debunking them all. I wonder what the next big doomsday prediction will be when the 2012/Nibiru one falls flat on its face? How about 2020? That’s a nice even number isn’t it? Actually here’s a better idea for all the doomcryers, how about when 2012 fails and we pass into 2013, then 2014 etc, you unplug your PC from the wall, then unplug your brain from your ass and go outside and actually do something constructive and worthwhile with your lives? Nuff said.

The Truth About Comet Elenin

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment


The Hopi Prophecies Do Not Tie In With 2012

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment


The Hopi are one of America’s oldest Indian tribes.
They primarily live on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi area according to the 2000 census has a population of 6,946 people.

According to Hopi oral tradition, the Hopi are a gathering of diverse groups representing clans from different areas, now identifying culturally as one group of people with a single language. [1]


Culture and Mythology

The name Hopi is a shortened form of what these Native American people call themselves, Hopituh Shi-nu-mu, “The Peaceful People” or “Peaceful Little Ones”. [2]

The Hopi religion is anti-war. To be Hopi is to strive toward this concept, which involves a state of total reverence and respect for all things, to be at peace with these things, and to live in accordance with the instructions of Maasaw, the Creator or Caretaker of Earth. The Hopi observe their traditional ceremonies for the benefit of the entire world.

The various Hopi villages have slightly different versions of their mythology, so it becomes difficult to state “what the Hopi believe” with any accuracy.

Major Deities

Most Hopi accounts of creation center around Tawa, the Sun Spirit. Tawa is the Creator, and he formed the First World out of Tokpella, or Endless Space, as well as its original inhabitants. However, other accounts have Tawa, or Taiowa, first create Sotuknang, whom he called his nephew. Taiowa then sent Sotuknang to create the nine universes according to his plan, and it was Sotuknang who created Spider Woman, or Spider Grandmother. Spider Woman served as a messenger for the Creator and was an intercessorary between deity and the people. In some versions of the Hopi creation myth, it is she who creates all life under the direction of Sotuknang. Yet other stories tell that life was created by Hard Being Woman of the West and Hard Being Woman of the East, while the Sun merely observed the process.

Cyclical Worlds

The Hopi believe time to be cyclical and made up of a number of worlds. When a world begins it is innocent and pure, but as time goes by the world and its people become corrupted.

Hopi legend tells that the current earth is the Fourth World to be inhabited by Tawa’s creations. The story essentially states that in each previous world, the people, though originally happy, became disobedient and lived contrary to Tawa’s plan; they engaged in sexual promiscuity, fought one another and would not live in harmony. Thus, the most obedient were led (usually by Spider Woman) to the next higher world, with physical changes occurring both in the people in the course of their journey, and in the environment of the next world. In some stories, these former worlds were then destroyed along with their wicked inhabitants, whereas in others the good people were simply led away from the chaos which had been created by their actions.

At the height of decay the world ends, its people are purified, and everything starts over from the beginning. According to the Hopi lore, we are currently living in the fourth world. Sadly, due to the white man and his insatiable white quest for spiritless technology, we are rapidly approaching the Great Purification.


Just as there are various versions of the Hopi creation mythology, there are various versions of the prophecy, reported by different authors at different times. Note; According to statements made by the Hopi themselves, none of the currently publicized “Hopi Prophecies” actually originate with the Hopi. The closest to the genuine beliefs of the Hopi themselves would be the statements made by Thomas Banacyca to the United Nations. In this version, the Hopi are warning against continued armament by the great nations, stating that it will lead to another world war.

The Hopi do not discuss their beliefs with outsiders.

Thomas Banacyca version

Frank Waters version

Lee Brown version

The “Frank Waters” version of the prophecy, which is the most widely circulated among the “new age” set, is “harshly criticized” by the Hopi themselves! It is decried as “full of errors”.

The “Thomas Banacyca” version is most likely a misattribution, according to input I’ve received from people at New Age Frauds and Plastic Shamans, a Native American website dedicated to exposing the rip-offs of Native American culture by the white “New Age” set.

In particular read this thread.

According to some, the version linked above does not sound at all like Banacyca. It reads more like the “Rainbow Family’s” interpretation of the Hopi Prophecy, indiscriminately mixing in everything they could find, including Banacyca. Banacyca was Hopi, and one of the few people allowed by the Hopi to speak on their behalf to the world. Waters and Brown, not so much.

The “” site is an unofficial site for the “Rainbow Family”, which is itself a New Age rip-off of various Native American cultures.

Blue Star Kachina

Many 2012’ers and doomcryers use the Hopi Blue Star Kachina prophecy as “proof” of their claims, linking the prophecy to heavenly bodies such as comets and asteroids, Comet Holmes being the most notable. Now that we have Comet Elenin the Blue Star Kachina is being used again. However, people making these claims can’t seem to explain why the following objects were also hailed as the fulfillment of the ‘Blue Star Kachina’: Comet NEAT (2003), Sirius, a “hypervelocity star”, HE 0437-5439 etc., etc., etc. There are many more examples.


The so-called “signs of the Hopi Apocalypse” (which are falsely attributed to the Hopi) read like a middle school American History text book with a particular emphasis on the ill-deeds of the white man. Consequently, they seem little more than elements of a curse or an elaborate revenge fantasy. In addition, the ‘prophecies’ were first published in 1959, and subsequent publications have added more detail.


The publicized “prophecies” are not of Hopi origin, but rather are written by others with only a false or partial understanding of the Hopi. The actual Hopi ‘prophecies’ were a warning against militarism, and fit with their staunchly pacifist viewpoint.


1. (Schaaf 1996 [1])
2. See Mike Smith’s “Four Corners Postcard” site [2]


1. Schaaf, Gregory. 1996. Ancient Ancestors of the Southwest ISBN 1-55868-255-4
2. Smith, Michael L. 2000. Hopi Four Corners Postcard
3. Smith, Michael L. 2000. Hopi Prophecy Four Corners Postcard.

No, 2005 YU55 Won’t Destroy The Earth

July 28, 2011 Leave a comment

On November 8th of this year, the 400-meter-wide asteroid 2005 YU55 will pass the Earth, missing us by the comfortable margin of 325,000 kilometers (200,000 miles).

While this is the largest asteroid (that we know of) to swing past us for the next 17 years or so, YU55 is not an immediate threat to Earth. Its orbit does bring it close enough to our planet that it’s been deemed a potentially hazardous asteroid, but the orbit is well-enough known that we can rule out an impact for at least the next century. That’s long enough for me personally to not be concerned.

I’ve seen some small amount of buzz on the usual conspiracy sites about this asteroid, and I do see some folks trying to play this up a bit (search on “YU55 doomsday” for example), but fear-mongering chatter is surprisingly low for this event. I expect that by this fall you’ll be seeing breathless YouTube videos accusing NASA of covering up a imminent impact — and I don’t say this blithely; it’s happened before. Remember asteroid 2007 TU24? No? That’s because nothing happened, despite the claims of panic-promoters.

As you can see in this JPL animation below, in November YU55 will miss us by a cosmic mile as well (click to embiggen and get a clearer animation):

You can see the Earth at the center (the diagonal line if the Earth’s orbit around the Sun), the Moon orbiting the Earth, and the path of YU55. The scale on the bottom is a million kilometers, about 620,000 miles. The Moon’s orbit is roughly 770,000 km (475,000 miles) wide. The path of YU55 cuts a shallow chord across the Moon’s orbit, well away from our planet.

Still, there’s a chance for some real science on this rock. At that distance, it’ll appear so small (1/4 arcseconds across, where the Moon is 1800 arcsec across for comparison) that it’ll be too small even for Hubble to make much of it — at best, in Hubble’s cameras it will appear to be just two pixels across. And that’s even if Hubble could track it, which it can’t.

But the Deep Space Network of radio telescopes can actually get very high resolution imagery using sophisticated techniques, possibly getting images with a resolution of just 4 meters — the size of an SUV — on the asteroid. That means YU55 will be 100 pixels across, enough to see some details on the surface, including craters, boulders, and even possibly a moon if it has one. Pretty cool.

So anyway, just in case the icky underside of the internet tries to play this up later this year, shouting doom-and-gloom, let me be clear:

By Phil Plait.

Comet Elenin is NOT a satellite of a Brown Dwarf Star

June 10, 2011 3 comments

Written by Ian Musgrave of Astroblog.

Space is big, you think it’s a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll, but compared to space it’s nothing [1]. Against this vastness our sense of scale is confounded.

An example of this came this week when a correspondent asked me about my observations of comet 2010 X1 Elenin [2]. One of the prominent internet memes going around at the moment is that Elenin is actually the Moon of a Brown Dwarf star or a Brown Dwarf star itself (often claimed to be 4 times Jupiter’s size). I was asked if I could look out for something dim close to Elenin. There is just one problem, a Brown Dwarf close to Elenin would be very bright. Elenin currently is just outside the orbit of Mars (visualised in Celestia, click images to enlarge)

Brown Dwarf stars are stars that have only a few times the mass and radius of Jupiter; they are too small to start hydrogen fusion, although they may run for a short while on deuterium fusion. They are typically quite cool compared to main sequence stars, and emit very little visible light.

From a distance of a few light years or more they are invisible to optical telescopes. To find these dim almost-stars, we need to look with infrared sensitive telescopes. For example the WISE telescope had as one of its missions surveying for Brown Dwarfs. The coolest Brown Dwarf so far discovered by WISE is WISEPC J045853.90+643451.9 which is over 18 light years away. With a temperature of 600 K it is hot enough to melt lead and tin, but is totally invisible to our current optical telescopes.

But while these almost stars produce very little visible light of their own, they reflect light perfectly well. If you go out in the early morning and look to the north-east, you will see a bright object well above the horizon (brighter Venus is well below it). That is Jupiter, a failed Brown-Dwarf, which we can see just fine.

Elenin is currently just outside Mars’s orbit, we can easily calculate how bright an object 4 times Jupiter’s size would be at that distance using the formulas here. I’ve put my calculations up on Google Docs for people to play with (click this link for access to spreadsheet [3]).

Simulation of what a Brown Dwarf would look like in the sky tonight if it was near comet Elenin’s current position. I’ve used Stellarium’s cometary body codes, using a dark, non-luminous object with 4 times Jupiter’s diameter. It would be kind of obvious. If a Brown Dwarf with a surface much darker than the Moon was at Elenin’s distance (as of June 1), it would have a magnitude of -6.5.

This is much brighter than Venus, bright enough to cast shadows at night and bright enough to be easily seen in daylight. This is an under estimate, as a Brown Dwarf would be more likely to be more reflective, more like Jupiter. An object 4 times Jupiter’s size just outside Mars’s orbit would also be visible as a small disk (you can do the calculations for this one as an exercise for yourselves, see the Stellarium simulation above).

Simulating a non-self luminous Brown Dwarf using fruit. The granny smith apple is the Brown dwarf. Left hand panel, the Brown Dwarf at Pluto’s orbit. Right hand panel, the brown Dwarf at Mars’s orbit. The mandarin is Jupiter, the lillypilli pit is Mars and and the lillypilliy (closest to torch) is Earth. Distances have been scaled at 10 cm= I AU.

Brown Dwarfs are only invisible to us because they lie deep in the vasty dark, away from any light sources that can illuminate them. This is what causes confusion for some folks. Brown Dwarfs themselves produce little or no visible light but they are perfectly capable of reflecting light, as does Jupiter.

Here’s a test you can do yourself with a torch an some pieces of fruit. I’ve scaled the solar system so that 1 AU (the distance from Earth to the Sun) is 10 cm from the torch I’m using as the Sun. Mars’s orbit lies 25 cm away, Jupiter’s orbit is 62 cm away and Pluto’s orbit is 4 meters away. The orbit of the hypothetical planet Tyche would be two blocks away, and the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, lies 2.7 km away on the other side of Taperoo. I’ve used a lillypilli for Earth, a mandarin for Jupiter and an apple for a Brown Dwarf (see diagram above).

Strictly speaking, if I wanted to scale the diameters of the planets to the scale of the solar system, then I would have used 1 meter for 1 AU, them the Brown Dwarf would be 2 mm in diameter (I leave it as an exercise for the reader to test this themselves).

As you can see, when the non-self luminous “Brown Dwarf” is at Pluto’s distance, it is fairly dim, but when we move the “Brown Dwarf” to just outside of Mars’s orbit, it is quite bright. The atmosphere of a real T class is probably as reflective as a Granny Smith (but more a Magenta colour). Such an object would be readily visible in the night sky.

Leonid Elenin himself has done a simulation on his website ( of what would happen to solar system orbits if a Brown Dwarf passed through. It would be quite obvious.

What if we replace comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) by brown dwarf with mass about 0.05 of Solar mass? This video demonstrate time interval from 2000 to 2020 years. As you can see, dramatic changes in the orbit of Saturn would have started 3 years ago. But at this time all planets are on it’s nominal orbits. I think myth about “brown dwarf instead comet Elenin” is debunked. You can see that by yourself.

Numerical integration was carried out by ORSA software using RADAU15-th order integrator.

Summary: So, as you can see, it is impossible for Elenin to be a moon of a Brown Dwarf star (also we would have noticed its orbital motion by now) or a Brown Dwarf itself.

[1] Obligatory Douglas Adams homage, with added AC/DC.
[2] I haven’t got any yet, either I’ve got the time wrong and the comet has set, or the observatory is closed because of bad weather.
[3] Note that for the H calculation Do is in Km, but for the magnitude calculation, Do is in AU. The calculated magnitudes of Venus, Jupiter and Neptune agree with their observed magnitudes.

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