Asteroids

 asteroids


Partner and I saw something interesting the other night. A near-earth asteroid, Apophis, was making a near approach to Earth, and we watched it in real time, on a British website called Slooh.com, which operates a powerful telescope in the Canary Islands off Africa.

The images were peaceful enough: a tiny bright spot moving slowly against a background of stars.

Apophis will not trouble us this time; it’s too far away.

But Apophis is coming back. It will make another near-Earth approach in 2029, and again in 2036. There is a vanishingly small chance that, in 2036, Apophis will actually hit the Earth.

If it does, it would not be quite as bad as the dinosaur-killing asteroid that hit Earth sixty million years ago. It would be very bad, however.

But, as I said, the chances are very small.

Makes you feel uncertain, doesn’t it?

I don’t much care. In 2036, I’ll be 79 years old, if I’m not already dead.

But it makes me think of all the odd things that can happen, and the random horrible accidents that can really ruin your day.

And I used to like the asteroids.  I thought of them as a remote peaceful place, a planetary archipelago, kind of like the British West Indies.

I prefer them that way.

Here’s Diane Ackerman’s poem from the 1970s:

We imagine them


flitting


cheek to jowl,


these driftrocks


of cosmic ash


thousandfold afloat


between Jupiter and Mars.


Frigga,


Fanny,


Adelheid,


Lacrimosa.


Names to conjure with,


Dakotan black hills,


A light-opera


Staged on a barrier reef.


And swarm they may have,


Crumbly as blue-cheese,


That ur-moment


when the solar system


broke wind.


But now


they lumber


so wide apart


from each


to its neighbor’s


pinprick-glow


slant millions


and millions


of watertight miles.


Only in the longest view


do they graze


like one herd


on a breathless tundra.


Advertisements

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: