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Heads up! It’s Asteroid Day

This image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows a simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013. The 150-foot object passed within 17,200 miles of the Earth.
This image provided by NASA/JPL-Caltech shows a simulation of asteroid 2012 DA14 approaching from the south as it passes through the Earth-moon system on Feb. 15, 2013. The 150-foot object passed within 17,200 miles of the Earth. Photo

This is indeed a special day. It’s the time-honored (since last June 30) Asteroid Day, which of course has its own website and blog.

People (geeks) all over the world are gathering in different venues throughout the day to learn about asteroids and talk about how best to prepare for the next big impacts on the planet, according to space.com.

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History’s planetarium staff and volunteers from the National Space Society of North Texas are taking part. They’ll be handing out material on asteroids and NASA efforts to find near Earth asteroids in the exhibit hall of the planetarium from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ken Ruffin, president of the National Space Society of North Texas, will give a talk about asteroids at 3 p.m. in the Oak Room on the first floor. Exhibit admission for the day’s event is required.

Asteroid Day commemorates the day in 1908 of the largest asteroid explosion in recent history, the Tunguska event in remote Siberia that flattened some 800 square miles of forest but caused no known human casualties. (The locals “believed the blast was a visitation by the god Ogdy, who had cursed the area by smashing trees and killing animals,” says Don Yeomans, former manager of the Near-Earth Object Office at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.)

The 220 million-pound fireball released energy equivalent to about 185 Hiroshima bombs, Yeomans says. He figures an asteroid of that size will enter Earth’s atmosphere once every 300 years. About 1,500 near Earth objects are detected each year, NASA says.

In case you’re wondering what the difference is between an asteroid and a meteor:

The people at Science News are fairly excited about today:

The folks at Scientific American are slightly more hopeful:

Business Insider is naturally focused on the possible ramifications for Wall Street:

This is just shameless self-promotion, something we frown on:

Here’s a teaser for an Asteroid Day series on YouTube that ends rather ominously, “The dinosaurs never saw that asteroid coming. What’s our excuse?”

Happy Asteroid Day! Keep your eyes on the sky.

Tom Uhler: 817-390-7832, @tomuh

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