‘Chicken-Tender’ Asteroid and a Full Moon

December 24, 2015

asteroid_2_2_optOccasional heavy rains mixed in with near-continuous drizzle this Thursday morning on California’s north coast, as the holiday storms force-feed their way through the region.
Strong thunder with a bit of lightning, too, last night — dramatic, reminded me of my origins, Alabama, the Deep South, where they’re also experiencing some gnarly weather. This the winter of disquietly-strange and weird…

Also ‘no worries‘ tonight: ‘A giant space rock known as 2003 SD220, estimated to be 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) across, will be making its closest approach to Earth on December 24, zooming at 17 miles (27 km) per second.’

(Illustration found here).

According to National Geographic, asteroid 2003 SD220 will miss earth by 6.7 million miles (11 million kilometers) — about 28 times the distance separating us and the moon.
Furthermore:

While some asteroids, known as Near Earth Objects (NEOs), do pose a threat of colliding with our planet, NASA says the orbit of SD220 won’t pass within a dangerous distance for at least the next 200 years.

Each event offers astronomers an amazing opportunity to advance our knowledge about these barnstorming asteroids.
By bouncing radar signals off the surface of SD220, we’ll be able to gather valuable data such as its shape, dimensions, and spin.
Already, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico has gotten an early look and astronomers have likened its elongated form to a chicken tender.
NASA’s Goldstone Antenna in California will also be on the case this week.
At its closest approach, SD220 will be no brighter than magnitude 15, making it visually impossible to catch with even large backyard telescopes.
However, advanced photo hounds with the right equipment may be able to snag a digital image of the rocky interloper gliding across the sky against the background of fixed stars.

Our weather near-about makes it impossible to see the moon, much less a slim ‘chicken tender.’
However, speaking of the moon — a rare full moon tomorrow morning.
Via Scientific American:

This month, the full moon will peak at 6:11 a.m. EST (1111 GMT) on Dec. 25.
This will be the first time a full moon has graced the skies on Christmas Day in 34 years, and it won’t happen again until 2034.
When the December full moon rises, it will be a Full Cold Moon, because it will light up the sky during the beginning of winter, according to NASA.
(In the Northern Hemisphere, astronomical winter kicks off on Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year.)
Earth’s closest neighbor is thought to have formed when a Mars-size rock collided with Earth, stripping off the outer layers.
Since then, the moon has continued to affect the tides on Earth.
“As we look at the moon on such an occasion, it’s worth remembering that the moon is more than just a celestial neighbor,” John Keller, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement from the space agency.
“The geologic history of the moon and Earth are intimately tied together, such that the Earth would be a dramatically different planet without the moon.”

Holiday celestial celebrations, and how about a ‘turkey tender‘ instead…?

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