PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 67/2003 - 5 September 2003
--------------------------------


If that asteroid does strike earth in 2014, it is a worrying thought that neither Brian Perkins nor Peter Donaldson will be on hand to deliver, each inflection perfectly in place, the final Radio 4 news report. If anyone could make Armageddon palatable, it would be these two veteran newsreaders.
   --The Guardian, 5 September 2003


That's one of the problems with science. Most of what it discovers
is bad news. This week, for instance, some miserable geek has told us
that a whopping great asteroid - affectionately named 2003 QQ47 - is
likely (sic!) to splatter us all over the patio on March 21, 2014.
The fact that 2003 QQ47 weighs about 260,000,000,000kg just makes
matters worse. 
  --Jim Hopkins, The New Zealand Herald, 5 September 2003
 

(1) BRITAIN STILL IN THE DARK ABOUT RETRACTED ASTEROID SCARE

(2) HOW STUPID ARE OR "ROBOTS"?

(3) WAS QQQ47 "SEXED UP" BY BRITISH GOVERNMENT?

(4) COMETARY DETECTION

(5) AND FINALLY: "LIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA SKY APPARENTLY ASTEROID BURNING
    IN ATMOSPHERE"

===========
(1) BRITAIN STILL IN THE DARK ABOUT RETRACTED ASTEROID SCARE

The Guardian, 5 September 2003
http://www.guardian.co.uk/leaders/story/0,3604,1035830,00.html

Calm voices in a crisis
How will we survive without them?

The Guardian
Leader
Friday September 5, 2003

If that asteroid does strike earth in 2014, it is a worrying thought that neither Brian Perkins nor Peter Donaldson will be on hand to deliver, each inflection perfectly in place, the final Radio 4 news report. If anyone could make Armageddon palatable, it would be these two veteran newsreaders. But this week both announced that they are reaching the end of the bulletin. Mr Donaldson is stepping down as Radio 4's chief announcer and Mr Perkins is retiring from the BBC. Happily, both will still be heard occasionally, but an era is ending.....

=========== LETTERS ==========

(2) HOW STUPID ARE OR "ROBOTS"?

Alain Maury <amaury@123.cl>

I am always amazed that the wonderful "robots" which are checking the
orbits of newly discovered objects in real time, and which are
impressive pieces of codes, certainly of hundreds of thousands of lines,
written by very smart programmers/mathematicians/astronomers do not
include a couple more lines which in pseudo code would read like this:
if (length_of_arc<30days) then
{    Torinoscarelevel=0
    inform_observers_for_follow_up
}

Or even shorter :

Torinoscarelevel=0
inform_observers_for_follow_up

since it has all probabilities (~99.999%) to be true for all objects
detectable by the current Spaceguard Survey. The big objects which
Spaceguard should be able to detect at the 90% level have a very low
impact probability in the coming century, and the smaller ones, which
have a higher impact probability have a much lower detection
probability. The detection of a real, short term (100 years) impactor
during the current Spaceguard is such low probability event that
announcing event such as these after one week of observation is a
stupidity. I don't know what to call doing it over and over every year.
Are the above mentioned programmers really smart ?

Alain

=============
(3) WAS QQQ47 "SEXED UP" BY BRITISH GOVERNMENT?

Joe Montani <jmontani@LPL.Arizona.Edu>

Benny,

My wine merchant tonight, at the usual Thursday night tasting, pumped
me for what I may know "from the inside" about the 2003 QQ47 news
flap which is still infecting the US media like a virus. I told him
the issue is settled, and that all it took was 3 nights' additional
observations to reveal an orbit refined enough to revise the
probabilities. The fellow is a Scotsman, and when I told him that
the news "flap" began in the UK, he had an instantaneous response:
"Oh, it must have been to keep Tony off the front page".

"Tony?", I asked, as I set down my stemware.

"Yes, `Blair'".

It made sense to me; I wonder if the QQ47 flap actually had this effect?

Did the PM wind up on page 14, while QQ47 took headlines?

Surely, the Press has been guilty of worse.

Moralizing -- if at all -- at least not gratuitously,

I remain,

Yours truly,

--Joe Montani / Tucson, Arizona (USA)

MODERATOR'S NOTE: Who cares about frontpages anyhow? What is much
more worrying about the latest British asteroid scare is that it
almost kept Page 3 girls from page 3! Or has anyone else ever seen
heavenly bodies undertaking a scientific risk assessment? :-)

=================
(4) COMETARY DETECTION

Jens Kieffer-Olsen <dstdba@post4.tele.dk>

Dear Benny Peiser,

NASA ( Ron Baalke ) released the following piece of
news a few days ago:

"Interestingly, when Comet Halley reaches its largest
distance from the Sun in December 2023, about 35 AU,
it will only be 2.5 times fainter than it is now. The comet
would still have been detected within the present exposure
time. This means that with the VLT, for the first time in the
long history of this comet, the astronomers now possess the
means to observe it at any point in its 76-year orbit!"

This is great news to the NEO community, since it points to
the feasibility of predicting impacts from 10km comets several
decades prior to the event, when they are well beyond the orbit
of Neptune. - On condition that we scour the skies for them of
course, but should funding be a question at all when the survival
of our civilization, if not our species, on planet Earth is at stake?

Yours sincerely
Jens Kieffer-Olsen, M.Sc.(Elec.Eng.)
Slagelse, Denmark

===========
(5) AND FINALLY: "LIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA SKY APPARENTLY ASTEROID BURNING
    IN ATMOSPHERE"

AP ALERT 5th September 2003

LIGHTS IN CALIFORNIA SKY APPARENTLY ASTEROID BURNING IN ATMOSPHERE

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Bright flashes in the California sky Thursday evening
were likely a small asteroid or debris from space burning up in the
Earth's atmosphere, authorities said.

A dispatcher with the state Office of Emergency Services said nothing
hit the ground but the clear sky over parts of the state made for a
spectacular light show.

Bluish white lights reportedly moving west to northeast were seen at
about 8:20 p.m. in Palm Springs and as far north as Napa and Amador
counties, according to witnesses and the OES.

A brief North American Aerospace Defense Command investigation concluded
that the lights were a small asteroid or space debris, according to OES.
Vandenberg Air Force Base reported it had not tested missiles or made
any other launch Thursday night.

Ginger Jeffries, a weathercaster at KESQ-TV in Palm Springs, called the
light "extremely bright."

"I was looking at it and going 'Mars isn't over there, what is that?"'

"We had dust storms overhead, you couldn't see much at all in the sky,"
she said. "But this was as clear and bright as anything."

Copyright 2003, AP

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