comet

AsteroidToday, March 23rd, is known as Near Miss Day because it was on this day in 1898 that a large asteroid, named Apollo Asteroid 1989FC…an asteroid that was, in fact, bigger than an aircraft carrier and traveling at 46,000 miles per hour, passed the Earth, and it was a mere 400,000 miles away. The Earth had been at that place in space just six hours earlier. Six hours was all that stood between the Earth and the asteroid. Had it hit the Earth, scientists predicted that it would have left a crater the size of Washington DC, and destroyed everything around it for up to a hundred miles. Of course, that asteroid did not hit earth, and so was forgotten in the minds of most people, with astronomers being the possible exception. Earth does get hit periodically with meteors…some larger than others, and our atmosphere deals with them quite often, burning most of them up, causing what we all know as a shooting star. I find it interesting that we are in the middle of another close encounter right now. This time it is with a comet…or to be more accurate, two comets.

The smaller comet, Comet P/2016 BA14, was difficult to see, but it passed by us at a distance of just 2.2 million miles, making it the third closest flyby of a comet in recorded history. The larger comet is called Comet 252P/Linear. It was first discovered back in 2000, and has been monitored since that time. Comet P/2016 BA14 was only spotted in January this year. At first, astronomers thought it was a potentially dangerous asteroid heading towards us. Comet P/2016 BA14 will make its closest approach at around 11:30am EDT on March 22 (2.30am AEST on March 23). Of course, if you live in the United States, these two occurrences will not be on Near Miss Day, but they will be for those who live in Australia. I don’t know if Australia recognizes Near Miss Day, but if they do, they would find this weeks event interesting too. Two-comets-will-pass-by-Earth-on-next-week

I think that most of the time, we think very little about space…at least most of us do. Space seems so far away, and while we know that there are lots of things floating around out there, we somehow don’t believe they will ever impact Earth. That is even more strange, in that the craters on the moon come from meteor strikes, so why would the Earth somehow be immune. Of course, it wouldn’t be immune at all. The Earth occupies pretty much the same space as the moon. So we could get hit. I know that 400,000 miles seems like a lot, but in the perspective of space, it would be classified as a near miss.

My sister, Alena was a child who has always loved hair styling, and I have often wondered why she didn’t become a cosmetologist, but she didn’t. She still cuts our mom’s hair and that of some of the rest of the family, but that is not where her true calling lies.  She was pretty funny as a child however, because her main practice head of hair was her own. If Alena was in the area…hide the scissors. I will never forget some of the comical hair styles she sported from time to time. Nor will I forget our mom’s difficult attempts at repairing the damage Alena had done. I remember the little pixie cut that came from a time when she cut one chunk very close to her head. And then there was the bangs that she suddenly had..and that were usually very short. The rest of us girls had long hair, but Alena’s hair depended on the cut of the day, and if Mom could keep the scissors out of her hands, which was next to impossible…because she would search them out.

When Alena wasn’t practicing her hair styling techniques, she was contemplating becoming a scientist…or more specifically, a chemist. Alena liked improving on the cleaning formulas we had in the house. I don’t really think that she ever perfected her own brand of cleaning formula by mixing Comet and shampoo, but our toilet, which was usually her mixing bowl, always seemed to be pretty clean. Of course, Mom could have wrung her neck a few times, and I have wondered how she mixed all that stuff, and never came up with a combination that would blow up the toilet. So much for really being a chemist, I guess. No, this wasn’t to be Alena’s true calling either.

While Alena never mentioned that school was anything that she particularly liked, it would be in a school setting that she would find her true calling. Alena began working in the school system when her children were still in school, and I’m sure that the hours were a factor in her decision, since she would have the same time off as her kids. She began working as a playground teacher, and was very well liked by all, including the children that she sometimes had to convince that they would be better off to control their behavior. It’s funny that often it is the strictest person in a child’s life that is the most respected. When her superiors saw how good she was at making kids behave…without killing any…they promoted her to positions like the “in school suspension” monitor, and eventually the classes for the children who were either troubled, or struggling. Of course, she had to take the necessary training for these positions, but in the end, she would find that she was well suited for this type of work, and believe it or not, these troubled children didn’t look at her as a warden, but as a friend, who understood them and wanted to help. Not a bad true calling, if you ask me.

Today is Alena’s birthday, and since she doesn’t have to work in the summer, I’m quite sure that she would be sleeping in, even if it weren’t a Saturday. And can you blame really her? Happy birthday Alena!! I hope you have a great day and a lovely summer!! We love you!!

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