Asteroid Lutetia: close encounter and near miss story

Artist's impression of asteroid Apophis' predicted close encounter with planet Earth in 2036

Asteroid Lutetia is due to pass between the Earth and the Moon on Wednesday November 9, at 9.28 am, NSW time (corresponding to Tuesday November 8, 3.28 pm Pacific Standard Time in the USA). Different sources give different sizes for this visitor, that’s why, not knowing for sure, I decided to edit an earlier entry where i stated its size to be approximately 120 km x 100 km x 80 km.

This new cosmic event, after all the hubbub that has surrounded pseudo dwarf planet Elenin, is already causing quite a bit of stir in some circles.

Lutetia, apparently a baby or proto-planet that never finished forming, is part of the main Asteroids belt orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. She is amongst the ‘potentially hazardous’ asteroids, because its orbit intercepts the Earth’s orbit. Scientists however reassure us that it will not present any real danger this time, its gravitational effect remaining very tiny, not affecting the Earth’s tides or magnetism, as some alarmists decided it will do. They say that it will be another hundred years or more before this particular rock might pose any real danger to planet Earth.

An opposition of Mars in Leo to Neptune in Aquarius is due to be exact on November 7, next Monday. And on Saturday November 12 another opposition is on the cards between Mars and Chiron by then in early Virgo and Pisces respectively. These transits are likely to inspire vague feelings of  apprehension in some sensitive types, but, like a lot of aspects involving Neptune, the foreboding is more of a threat than the disastrous events anticipated.

To me asteroids and comets are not to be looked upon just as potential harbinger of doom (though some could well be), but as outer space messengers, making us earthlings more aware that there is much more to life than our mundane concerns and that the universe is indeed a vast and mysterious place, full of dangerous and wonderful unknowns.

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