Hyakutake comet makes its closest approach to Earth as ABC World News concludes with a report about our unpreparedness for fending off a Rock aimed at our planet. Astronomer Neil Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium sums up, "I know of no way that we can stop it."
Asteroid JA-1, a third of a mile wide, passes within 279,000 miles of Earth, a near miss. JA-1 was spotted just four days before it passed. "A fairly sizeable asteroid went across the sky in less than five days," reported an official at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We would not have had time to do anything that would have diverted this object."
Astronomy magazine's cover story is headlined "Comet Hale-Bopp Takes Center Stage...this space rock...is three times the size of an average comet...On March 22, 1997 Comet Hale-Bopp is in conjunction with the Sun...It is also nearest the Earth on this date...a total solar eclipse is visible across Mongolia....the appearance of a comet during an eclipse is extremely rare; less than half a dozen 'eclipse comets' have been seen throughout recorded history."
March 11, 1998:
The first reports about asteroid 1997 XF11 airs on the Evening News and a rising tide of anxiety consumes world media. Humanity awakes to a black Thursday on March 12 and stares at blaring headlines: "Asteroid Heads Towards Earth!"
August 6, 1998:
Beneath a photo of asteroid 1980-H CNN reports, “U.S. space scientists said Wednesday they have discovered two real asteroids heading in Earth's direction…these asteroids are not expected to come anywhere near Earth's orbit for at least several decades. The two asteroids, each of them at least one mile across, have been classified as ‘potentially hazardous objects’ by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, because they are large enough to cause global effects if they hit Earth…the asteroids passed within 2 million miles of Earth during their last orbit.“
May 19, 1999:
Exactly 3 years after asteroid 1996 JA-1 nearly collided with Earth, BBC News reports "A large asteroid could miss the Earth by only 38,000 kilometres (20,000 miles) in 2027, according to new astronomical observations. This is an extremely close shave - the Moon orbits 10 times further from Earth…the Earth's gravity could perturb the asteroid's path, possibly leading to an impact in 2039. The near-miss trajectory of a newly-discovered asteroid, called 1999 AN10, was announced in April. Now, the observational data of Australian astronomer F. Zoltowski allows calculations of just how close the asteroid may come to Earth. Astronomers at the Minor Planet Center at the US Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory used Zoltowski's work to work out an estimated approach distance for AN10…The fly-by will occur on Aug. 7, 2027. But the closest distance that AN10 could come to the Earth on that day is only 38,000km…calculations confirm the initial speculation that the asteroid might approach within the Earth's sphere of gravitational influence. It could therefore be perturbed in such a way that it might impact some years later.
"Dr Benny Peiser of Liverpool John Moore's University in England says that the chaotic behaviour of this asteroid makes it practically impossible to predict all possible approaches for more than a few decades after any close encounter. He says the orbit will remain dangerously close to the orbit of the Earth for about 600 years…If it did strike, it would cause continent-wide devastation and alter the Earth's climate."
December 5, 1999:
Millions of Americans witness a giant meteorite Rock grazing the Earth's atmosphere, cutting a flaming streak over Alabama and several neighboring states.
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January 18, 2000:
With the force of multiple nuclear warheads, a giant meteor explodes over Tagish Lake in British Columbia near Alaska.
February 7, 2000:
The University of Pisa issues a "scientifically urgent" warning about the trajectory of Asteroid 2000 BF19, aimed to arrive near Earth in 2022. Astronomer Andrea Milani breaks the code of silence engaged by all professional star gazers gagged by the U.S. government's decree to keep secret all discoveries of Earth threatening rocks from space. Milani is immediately besieged by a swarm of government scientists trained to "creatively recalculate" the trajectory of rocks like 2000 BF19. MSNBC picks up the banner with reports that cite astronomers who have been "gathering additional data about the orbits of asteroids so that they could eventually be excluded as a threat...Two years ago, the first such asteroid alert caused quite a stir," notes MSNBC, "more recent alerts have been greeted much more calmly." More "calmly" because the news never really surfaces for the public to consider in a dominator controlled media. MSNBC boasts that, for mile wide asteroid 1997 XF11, aimed to rendezvous with Earth in 2028, concerns were "erased within days." Microsoft Network reveals that in April, June, and October of 1999, four more asteroids were discovered to be headed towards Earth, but, after government officials creatively recalculated trajectories for these rocks, concerns were "erased within days."
July 10, 2000:
BBC News reports, "Earth-Approaching Space Rock Found By Accident - The space rock was found by accident on 2 July by astronomer Leonard Amburgey of Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He typed in the wrong celestial co-ordinates into his computer-controlled telescope and stumbled across the [1.8 mile] sized object. The asteroid has been given the temporary designation 2000 NM by the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Astronomers say this is the brightest near-Earth asteroid to be discovered in the past year. However, they are concerned that it was found by accident and was missed by the half dozen professional minor-planet surveys currently in operation. At the moment, it is about [13 million miles] from Earth. It crosses inside the Earth's orbit at the end of July."
September 1, 2000:
Asteroid 2000 QW7, half a kilometer wide, races past Earth at about twelve times the distance of the Moon. The "Near-Earth Object" was discovered last weekend on August 26, 2000, with NASA/JPL's Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) system. QW7 caught the attention of astronomers because it was fast-moving and unusually bright. At 13th magnitude, amateur astronomers could easily spot the Rock through 8-inch telescopes. 2000 QW7 falls into a category of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) called Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs).
November 4, 2000:
Frontpage headlines worldwide again report that an asteroid is on course to cross paths with Earth. A rock the size of an office building, and named 2000 SG344, is due to arrive on September 21, 2030, with a 1 in 500 chance of impact. Scientists announce that if it hits the Earth it will release 100 times the energy of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. For three days a group of international astronomers analyzed data on the rock before making today's announcment. "This is the highest probability of impact that we have ever calculated for an object," said Paul Chodas, project engineer for the Near-Earth Object Program.