On this Thanksgiving weekend, here is something else to be thankful for - life on Earth was not wiped out by a comet or asteroid impact, despite three close approaches in recent months.
On June 27, asteroid 2011 MD zoomed by at the "butt-clenchingly close distance of only 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles)" without incident.
A couple weeks ago, on November 8, a 400-meter wide asteroid named 2005 YU55, came within 201,000 miles of Earth. [Right, Asteroid 2005 YU55. Credit, Arecibo Observatory/Michael Nolan]
But the one that generated the most consternation in the blogosphere was Comet Elenin that broke up on Sept. 10, on its way towards its closest encounter with Earth expected on Oct. 16.
Various doomsayers claimed Elenin would trigger 'catastrophic earthquakes' or that it was actually the mysterious Planet X, or Planet Zeta, or Nibiru which would cause the magnetic poles to flip, triggering the crust to shift 90 degrees, and devastating life on Earth. Whew! Guess we dodged the bullet on that one.
The Nibiru predictors have been justifying their predictions in part on the development of ground cracks reported around the world, including reports of earth fissures in Arizona. Supposedly the gravitational pull of Elenin (aka Nibiru) was triggering the crustal stresses that produce the cracks. However, a NASA scientist calculated that his Toyota Prius produced greater stresses on our planet than did the remote comet.
Since we are apparently still here and alive, the predictions are that the real comet/asteroid/planet collision will occur sometime in 2012. So, we can all be thankful yet again that we can celebrate through New Years apparently without fear of the end of the world!