The Onslaught of Extraterrestrial Objects

There has been a lot of activity in our solar system with recent solar flares and visits of Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Observatory board members, Walt Pickut and Tom Traub joined forces to talk about these recent events in the context of Earth being a “target.”

Solar activity has been high. We’ve had recent sunspots that produced a solar storm resulting in the spectacular aurora of May 10. Continued sunspot activity has produced more flares and storms causing partial radio disruptions around the world. Tom Traub elaborated on the Sun’s composition, recent solar events, and their implications.

NEOs such as comets, asteroids, and meteors are objects that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth’s neighborhood. Asteroids typically reside in a “belt” between Mars and Jupiter. Meteors, on the other hand, are usually much smaller, typically pebble-sized or smaller, and are usually made of debris left by comets. Every once in an eon, though, an asteroid or big meteor comes along that could wipe out a city or a million dinosaurs 🙂 Walt Pickut presented the different types of NEOs, where they come from, how they’ve impacted the Earth, and possible future dangers.



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