Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Good Viewing for Tonight's Close Encounter of the Asteroid Kind

November 8, 2011

Our old friend is back! It was sure nice to see the sun again after what seemed to be a month of darkness. Well we were really stuck in the clouds for three and a half days but this is the sunshine state so it felt much, much longer. This was all due to our newest tropical storm that formed. But we will get to that. Of much more urgency is an asteroid moving toward earth at nearly 30,000 mph as I type this. Now we are not in danger but it is a reminder of our earth's turbulent past and a future that will inevitably include more catastrophic collisions. The dinosaurs if they were here could attest to this.

Asteroid 2005 YU55 will be about 201,000 miles away or its closest to the earth at 6:28 p.m. This distance is closer than the moon currently is which is about 248,000 miles away. Pretty impressive! The timing on mostly clear skies looks great but this asteroid is the shade of dark chocolate since it is a class-C asteroid which means it is made primarily of carbon. So you will need a high powered telescope with a mirror greater than six inches. You need to look high in the southern sky just to the right of the Pegasus Square. Our best viewing would likely be between 9 and 10 p.m. in this part of the sky. It is moving quickly and is faint so it will be a challenge to even the more sophisticated stargazer.

What is amazing is it will only be 150,000 miles from the moon. The good news is we will be able to study this asteroid which will hopefully give us an idea of what we are dealing in the future when we may not be so lucky. The good news is we should be asteroid free for at least the next 100 years. It goes to show you how fragile life is and that you should never take it for granted. If this 1,300 foot space rock hit it would have left a 5 mile crater about 2,000 feet deep. A tsunami wave of 80 feet would have reached all our continents and it would be like 65,000 Hiroshima bombs going off at the same time. So we can count our blessings! We are safe but it will come so close that the earth will effect its spin which takes 18 hours to make one revolution! That is a lot to think about isn't it! Our next close encounter of the asteroid kind will not take place until 2029. Good viewing and please send any great pictures to weather@firstcoastnews.com. Thanks!

I want to wish my Dad a Happy Birthday. I will be going out to celebrate tonight. The best gift my Dad ever gave me was teaching me about the different clouds one day at the playground and always believing in me! Thanks Dad! I love you!

Speaking of clouds this would make both me and my Dad proud! What a beautiful job by NASA! We have a full-fledged tropical storm now. We talked about this over the weekend! What started out as a storm with both mid-latitude and tropical characteristics is now all tropical since it has had about 48 hours to spin like a top over tropical waters of 80.5 degrees just above the 80 degree threshold. Its biggest impact we have already felt with the lingering clouds, swells, dangerous seas, rip currents, beach erosion and northeast breezes. The good news is it will stay out to sea and Bermuda should only see a few gusts of 40 mph along with some rain showers. It will weaken by late week as it encounters cooler water and wind shear.

Sean is being kicked out by a major front that brought those amazing Oklahoma tornadoes yesterday. The main local impact for us at home will be a couple of very nice warm November days! Yes, I said warm. We have been running about 4 to 5 degrees below normal so far this moth and we are long overdue. We can keep the sunshine in the forecast to boot. A sneak peek to this upcoming weekend does not hold for another nor'easter! How about a southeaster. I will be back to explain more tomorrow along with a turkey day forecast that will have you gobbling for more!

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