Today on Facebook, the community astronomy group Da Terra Para as Estrelas posted this comic:
I have to say, the content of this comic hit home with me. I used to spend a lot of time gazing up at the sky but now…not so much. Truth be told, I spend the vast majority of my day (and night) staring at a computer screen. And while I am a huge fan of Stellarium, I miss looking up at the real sky.
Part of this change is due to moving to a large urban area that has more light pollution and so stargazing is more difficult. The weather is definitely a huge factor too – fog, clouds and cold definitely discourage me from going outside at night. But I must admit to my growing addiction to computers as well. In fact, one big reason I started this blog was to encourage myself to start stargazing again and to get in touch again with celestial happenings.
Over the last few days I’ve seen some items come through my in-box about some asteroid. These emails are from planetarium and science center educators, so if they are talking about it then I know it must be worth paying attention to. But I’ve so busy with other work that I haven’t actually read those emails, only the subject lines. (Picture me hanging my head in shame here.)
Fortunately, social media saves the day, since another friend posted the following link on FB: House-Size Asteroid Comes Closer to Earth Than the Moon Friday: Watch Live.
Well. That headline got my attention. Seriously? A HOUSE-sized asteroid is coming CLOSER than the Moon? That’s kind of cool.
Apparently this chunk of space rock, called asteroid 2012 TC4 was just discovered on October 4. It is 56 feet wide (17 meters) and will come within 59,000 miles (95,000 km) of the Earth. But never fear, this asteroid does not pose any danger to Earth.
So I wonder: Can I see it? Apparently not without some help from – wait for it – my computer. Oh the irony! The asteroid is too small to see with the naked eye but the Virtual Telescope Project and the Slooh Space Camera had live webcasts of the asteroid. Too bad for me I already missed them. The good news is the Slooh webcast is archived, so you can still watch it online.