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Asteroids Passing By Earth Essay

820 words - 4 pages

“Two Asteroids Pass by Earth Wednesday” is an article which appeared on the Astronomy Magazine website. It was written on September 8th, 2010. The article is about two recent near-earth asteroids which came very close (by space standards) to the earth. One of the asteroids is 32-65 feet in diameter and the other one is estimated to be between 20 and 46 feet in diameter. According to the article, their orbits will bring them within 154,000 miles and 49,088 miles, respectively, of the earth.

The author of this article did a fairly good job of describing the scientific importance of this topic for a non-expert audience. For example, the author describes how there are 50 million undiscovered ...view middle of the document...

The author noted that the asteroids would pass within 0.6 and 0.2 lunar distances, respectively. If I had not been enrolled in Astro 10, I would probably had to look up what “lunar distance” actually meant. However, I have become semi-familiar with a myriad of astronomical terms which helped me to figure out that “lunar distance” is the distance as measured between the earth and the moon. As previously stated, this article was not difficult to understand. While somebody without having taken Astro 10 may not be familiar with lunar distance, they could easily figure it out through reasoning. Everything else in the article was self-explanatory.

After reading the article, I did some research on near-earth asteroids and what would happen if they hit the moon. I was also pondering the thought of “can the gravitational pull of near-earth and near-moon asteroids affect the orbit of either the earth or the moon? I managed to locate the following website:
http://web.mit.edu/press/2010/asteroid-seismology.html. In actuality, it appears that the gravity from the earth and the moon have quite an affect on asteroids. One discovery is something called “seismic shake” in which the Earth actually causes the asteroid to shake and new material from inside of the asteroid is pulled to the surface. This can even occur as far away as .25 lunar distances.

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