[FoRK] Fwd: {MPML} The REAL closest approach by an asteroid

Joseph S. Barrera III joe at barrera.org
Fri Mar 19 19:29:30 PST 2004


Things are seldom what they seem
skim milk masquerades as cream

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: 	{MPML} The REAL closest approach by an asteroid
Date: 	Fri, 19 Mar 2004 20:03:02 -0700
From: 	Roy Tucker <gpobs at mindspring.com>
Reply-To: 	mpml at yahoogroups.com
To: 	mpml at yahoogroups.com



Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the forum,

        Several press releases have been recently provided to the media
proclaiming that the passage of 2004 FH is "the closest asteroid flyby of
Earth ever recorded". This is not true. The actual closest occurred on
August 10th, 1972 when an object entered the Earth's atmosphere over the
western United States and 101 seconds later left the atmosphere over
Alberta, Canada. Its closest approach to the surface of the Earth is
calculated to have been about 58 kilometers. For more information, I refer
you to a very good web page at http://www.maa.agleia.de/Comet/1972.html.

        This is not the first time that I have gone through this exercise of
correcting erroneous press releases about close approaching objects. I have
previously received responses such as:

        "Well, this is the closest one that didn't enter the atmosphere."
Fine, put that in the press release. Does that somehow not make the 1972
event the closest flyby? It's a simple yes or no question.

        "I don't think an orbit was determined for the 1972 event, so 2004
FH is also the closest flyby of an object with a known orbit." Nope. Nice
pre-encounter and post-encounter orbits were computed for the 1972 object.
It's an Apollo.

        "The 1972 object was not discovered before closest approach." Nope.
Closest approach was over Montana, it was discovered while further away over
Wyoming.

        It's a simple fact: the 1972 Daylight Fireball was the closest
recorded approach to the Earth by a Near-Earth Object. Period. There is even
8mm movie footage recording it. It'll be a long time before the record is
broken. This is not like trying to define "What is a planet?" or "Is Pluto a
planet?". Any questions?

                                        Best regards,
                                          - Roy Tucker




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