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Perennial Perils of the Solar System

On February 15th, Asteroid 2012 DA14 came hurtling between us and our satellites, twelve times nearer than the Moon, so close that it was visible through binoculars from certain parts of the globe. Greg Laden writes, “This asteroid is not going to hit the earth now or during any of the next few decades, but eventually it may well do so.” On Starts With a Bang, Ethan Siegel writes that the Sun’s 11-year Solar Cycle peaks in 2013, meaning we can look forward to a year filled with solar flares. Even when these are spewed towards Earth, our magnetic field protects us from irradiation. But solar storms can wreak havoc with electrical systems, and Ethan says “if an ultra-massive, fast-moving coronal mass ejection ever heads directly towards Earth, you are literally taking your life into your hands if you do not shut down and unplug all of your electronic devices.” As from an asteroid, serious consequences from a solar storm are only a matter of time.

For more on the asteroid that did hit Earth on February 15th, please see the homepage at scienceblogs.com.

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