Friday, 15 February 2013

Space is scary

Every now and again I get reminded of the emotion I had when I was first shown a constellation.  It was the Plough, what else, and it was from the window of my parents' bedroom when I was about six.  My brother excitedly got me out of bed to show me, pointing to the appropriate page in the I-Spy book of The Night Sky to confirm his discovery.   My thoughts were: I'm scared.   It was a connection to the stars all those millions of miles away and I wasn't comfortable.

In the same book there was a section on meteorites.  I read it and was equally scared.  A rock falling from the sky, I reasoned, after the fashion of my faviourite story, that of Chicken Licken, might do me harm.  I didn't have the intellectual resources at that time to understand what a phenomenally small probability that was.  And the list of actual injuries was, in 1970, one.

Until today, that is.  Hundreds are reported injured as the result of a meteorite blast in Central Russia on the day that a smallish rock passes within 18000 miles of the Earth.  The medieval soothesayers will have a field day.  I am sure they won't listen to the words of reason spoken by those that actually know what they are talking about.

This is the worst meteorite incident since 1908 when something still uncertain exploded above Tunguska in Siberia and felled thousands of trees.  The previous worst, in terms of injury, happened on the dinosaurs' watch, 65 million years ago. 

Anyway, there is some amazing footage around on YouTube of the meteorite/fireball.  Seeing some of it made me wonder: how come such a rare event as this is so well documented and yet UFO videos all seem out of focus and fuzzy.  Can't someone get a good UFO shot?  I guess the answer is no, because meteorites are genuine and UFOs are, well, not what some people claim them to be.  These Russians seem keen n having a camera on their dashboards (perhaps car insurance isn't keen on paying out over there and this is a way of proving liability).

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