The fascination with near earth objects ( or NEO’s) has grown from the increased awareness of a computer based civilization that is constantly searching the sky. From the numerous space agencies that are in every country, continuous scans of the sky are regularly turning up new objects that have a close proximity to earth in their flight paths. Also, as the amateur astronomer’s telescopes have become less expensive and more reliable, there are more and more people out observing the sky and watching the beautiful cosmos around us.
One the the most important pieces of information to know concerning this topic is that the possibility of a near earth object, large enough to cause extensive damage, hitting the earth is very low. In a recent article from wikipedia.com, the impact rate for objects up to 10 meters happens every year, but the majority of the material burns up in the atmosphere during its speedy and intense entrance into the earth’s atmosphere.
Objects ranging up to 50 meters in size have a realistic chance of intersecting with the earth’s atmosphere every 1,000 years, with a possible impact capacity equal to 15 megatons. If an object of this size were to enter the atmosphere, a reassuring note is that due the speed of it entering the atmosphere, it would most likely explode above the surface and then dissipate. Considering that over 70% of the surface of the earth is covered by water, the effects of a potential blast have a much smaller probability of impacting human population.
Despite all the scary possibilities one of the most enjoyable aspects of today’s technology is watching the stars and comets in the night sky. From the personal telescope to the star tracking software available on computers, you can see and watch as these pieces of rock hurtle through the inner realm of our solar system against the immense backdrop of the universe. As we become more and more aware of all that surrounds us, we should not become afraid of all the problems that may beset us, rather we need to see all the opportunity that awaits us in just past the atmosphere.