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Coast to Coast AM topics

December 22, 2004

Welcome to Bad Astronomy!

This page has images and links that George Noory and I discussed on the Coast to Coast AM radio show on Wednesday night, December 22, 2004.

If you are curious about the other times I have been on C2C, then you can read the pages I wrote for my appearances on July 5, 2004, February 26, 2004, and November 15, 2003.

The first asteroid we discussed was 2004 YD5. It is roughly 5 meters (16 feet) across, and passed just about 20,000 miles away on December 19, 2004. It was actually discovered after it had already passed! This is common, actually, if the asteroid comes from the general direction of the Sun. When it's in that area, it's only up during the day (of course!) and cannot be detected until it passes us. For more info about 2004 YD5 (including a cool orbit simulator), go to NASA's Near Earth Object web site.

The second asteroid we talked about was 2004 VW14. It's much larger than YD5, with a diameter of something like 400-800 meters (it's hard to tell these things any better than that sometimes). On December 24, it'll pass the Earth with a larger margin, though, at about 5 times the distance to the Moon (1.3 million miles, or 2 million kilometers). It'll be too faint to see without a good telescope, shining at about magnitude 13, roughly 1/1000 the brightness of the faintest star you can see with your unaided eye. You can see the orbit of this asteroid at the Near Earth Object web site as well.

I mentioned the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission as well, which orbited the asteroid Eros and took amazing images. Find out more at the NEAR mission website.

Remember: the Universe is wonderful enough without having to make up nonsense about it.

©2008 Phil Plait. All Rights Reserved.

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