The Most Spectacular Display Possible (That Won't kill us)

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billslugg

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I think about this often. What if a virgin Halley sized comet made its first pass just grazing the retrograde side of then Earth, unleashing vast sonic booms, showing a HUGE object visible in daylight, moving against the background, then passed behind the Sun, came out on the prograde side skimming our atmosphere again, then hit the moon on its unlit side, visible just before sunrise, unleashing voluminous 500,000 meteors per hour storms for weeks.<br />NOTE: I assume that sonic booms only break windows, and don't kill people. I also assume that meteor induced fires are easily controlled.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p> </div>
 
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enigma10

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•Some people would be worried about the orbit of the moon, as well the orbit of the comet when/if it returns.<br /><br />•Some people would pull thier rusty pen out and increase funding for various space projects around NEAR.<br /><br />•Some people would think the end of the world was happening and throw dumb parties, while others created riots and looting.<br /><br />•Some people would think it was a sign of thier god and either increase donations to thier church or go blow themselves up for more virgins.<br /><br />•Some people would have a strong desire to start colonizing outer space.<br /><br /><br /> Thats about it.<img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"<font color="#333399">An organism at war with itself is a doomed organism." - Carl Sagan</font></em> </div>
 
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SpeedFreek

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Interesting. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />It seems to me that any of the incidents you mention would indeed create a most spectacular display. I am unsure as to how these incidents would affect us, but the 500,000 meteors per hour storms do worry me a little! These could be quite damaging - from both impacts and fires.<br /><br />But I did find myself wondering about the plausibility of the orbit this comet was taking. I'm not sure how likely it is that a comet can "skim" us on both the inward and outward journeys of the same orbit.<br /><br />And for a comet to skim the Earths atmosphere and then hit the <b> dark </b> side of the moon? This seems pretty impossible to me. To skim the planet and then hit the side of the moon that always faces away from the planet? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff0000">_______________________________________________<br /></font><font size="2"><em>SpeedFreek</em></font> </p> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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It would require a perfect orbit to pass close to the earth inbound and outbound. Only one comet does that, Halley's comet. Hence we get 2 meteor showers a year from this comet, the eta-Aquarids May 5 (outbound particles) and the Orionids around Oct 20 (inbound particles) The visible rates are at best 60 per hour. Not 500,000 an hour.<br /><br />If a comet hit the atmosphere deep enough to create sonic booms, it almost certainly would be completely disrupted. And it's meteors would generally head off in the same direction....away from us.<br />Such a comet would be on an extremely elliptical (or hyperbolic) orbit {from the Oort cloud, not the Kuiper belt, or else we'd know about it already} , and unlikely to intersect the earth's orbit again. <br />Hitting the moon is only marginally relevant, since 500,000/ hour meteor storms are rare and small enough that they have not been observed in human history.<br /><br />Significant asteroid impacts are possibly more likely.<br />Spectacular is important though, since the most spectacular view would be just before incineration <img src="/images/icons/crazy.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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nexium

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Some or most of the darkside of the moon is visable from Earth except at full moon. I think billslug realizes this. If most of the 500,000 meteors are less than ten tons each, they will with rare exceptions burn up in Earth's atmosphere, so fires should be a minor threat to life. Neil
 
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billslugg

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I have read that if a meteor storm is dense enough, it can ignite fires on the ground. I guess that some significant portion of the heavens would have to be at the temperature of a meteor. Maybe if 5 or 10 percent of the sky at any one time was occupied by a meteor then the radiated heat would be sufficient to ignite dry carbonaceous material. <br /><br />Have you been driving in a snowstorm with your headlights on and the flakes radiate from a central point? That is how a serious meteor storm would appear.<br /><br />Praise (Politically Correct Superior being) that I witness this before I die.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p> </div>
 
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billslugg

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nexium<br />The "dark side" of the Moon implies that portion we cannot see. I will change my post to refer to that part that is unlit.<br />Thank you-<br />Bill <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p> </div>
 
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dragon04

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I kind of like an impact on the facing side of the moon by an object a mile or two in diameter.<br /><br />If the impact was big enough to melt the entire facing side, generations of humans would be born, grow old, and die never knowing the face of the Moon that we were born under.<br /><br />THAT would be cool. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <em>"2012.. Year of the Dragon!! Get on the Dragon Wagon!".</em> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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That's not correct.<br />A <i> METEORITE </i> storm could do that, but only if it was from a massive object that impacted the ground.<br /><br />Meteors are produced by meteoroids, smoke particle to marble sized objects that are destroyed in the upper atmosphere. Even the fabled Leonid meteor storms with up to 40 meteors a second (giving the driving through a snowstorm effect) have no meteors reach anywhere near the surface.<br /><br />Meteorites (objects that make it to the ground) come from rockier material, much larger, and approaching the earth much more slowly. This allows them to come further down toward the ground before they are destroyed in the lower atmosphere. After that, the shattered pieces continue to fall under the influence of gravity and aerodynamics. However, since only the surface is heated in the atmosphere, and anything that becomes hot enough to melt is swept away, meteorites are at space temperature when they reach the ground. Cold, not hot.<br /><br />Where fires can start from a storm of objects would be with a surface impact at cosmic velocities. Then, the ejecta from the combined object and excavated earth can be very hot, enough to ignite wood at a considerable distance, and these will rain down as gravity pulls the objects back down.<br />Such a scenario does not qualify under the "won't kill us" title of the thread <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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yevaud

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Possibly a large, planet sized body impacting the Sun. It would likely cause some instability and spectacular solar flares, but it's highly doubtful that it would end all life on Earth. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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MeteorWayne

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Good Answer!!!<br /><br />Let's look at the board <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />(Let's go a little smaller than a planet though. A large Oort cloud comet would be enough fun, don't you think?) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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yevaud

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It'd have it's moments, yeah. <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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qso1

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I'd settle for a Hale Bopp that comes within 10 million miles of us. That will be a spectacular visual considering Hale Bopp came no closer to us than 100 plus million miles and it was easily seen. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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rfoshaug

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Here's an idea: A large comet that first passes close to Jupiter, breaking up in, say, 30 fragments (Shoemaker-Levy type).<br /><br />Then all those fragments, travelling in a long line, come so close to Earth that they brush the upper atmosphere, creating bright plasma trails. This aerobraking is just strong enough to set them up for a collision course with the Moon - some on the night side, some on the day side.<br /><br />THAT would be spectacular and would not kill us! <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff9900">----------------------------------</font></p><p><font color="#ff9900">My minds have many opinions</font></p> </div>
 
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witgenestone

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Apophis in 2029 and later in 2036/2037. It will be spectacular. <br /><br />Is it the most spectacular thing that can happen? No, but it will happen! <br /><br />Will it kill us? No, but it "can" kill some of us.
 
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qso1

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Works for me. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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